Winnicut River dam - NH government photoNative brook trout have been rediscovered in a tributary located in the New Hampshire Seacoast region — a sign that the ecosystem altered by man for centuries is restoring itself following the removal of pre-Industrial Age dam.

Removal of the deteriorated and outmoded head-of-tide dam is allowing the return of many sea-run species to the Winnicut River, improving upstream and downstream migration for river herring, American eel, and rainbow smelt and other species.

The dam restricted movement of the fish within the river, which in turn affected other ecological systems that are dependent upon the fish populations for dispersal within the ecosystem.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will also erect a fish passage-friendly culvert in the near future, with the hope that the native ‘brookies’ eventually will return to ascend the Winnicut River, allowing Mother Nature’s original plan to be restored for this scarce species.

The dam removal and fish passage project was partially funded in 2009 with $500,000 of stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The river has become the first of the area’s major tributaries since the early years of colonial settlements to no longer have a dam at the head-of-tide.

(READ more in the Union Leader)

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