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TU is working to restore the lower portion of Kinne Brook, a tributary to the Middle Branch of the Westfield River in western Massachusetts. By removing a small run-of-the-river dam on private property and replacing a pair of culverts, more than 10 miles of up- and downstream access for anglers will be returned to this tributary.
Eastern brook trout presently exist across a wide range of the Westfield River’s Middle Branch. However, electrofishing survey results prior to the current project showed declining native fish populations on Kinne Brook tributaries. Our approach is to remove any barriers to fish movement and allow the stream to return to its natural flow. We expect that this will result in a number of miles of increased access to the stream.
We have spent the last five years prioritizing how to dramatically improve conditions in the Westfield River watershed. With over 10 miles of Kinne Brook’s interconnected streams flowing into the Middle Branch, this dam removal will reconnect ideal spawning and rearing habitat for eastern brook trout, Atlantic salmon, American eel, sea lamprey, and slimy sculpin.
In September 2014, we removed the 30-foot long, six-foot high dam to reopen the majority of the main stem of Kinne Brook to its natural stream channel (photo above). Upstream of the former dam site, a pair of culverts are also scheduled to be replaced with bridges in late 2015.
This final major restoration piece will remove the last barriers to fish passage between the headwaters of Kinne Brook and the Littleville Lake Reservoir downstream.
With the dam removed, we will begin work to remove invasive species and plant native species, stabilize the stream banks, and rebuild the stream channel. All will improve fishing conditions on the Kinne Brook.
The area surrounding the Kinne Brook is well preserved — more than 60 percent of the land area is conserved. This long-term protection was a key element for us as we decided to work in the Kinne Brook watershed.
Collaborating with the environmental science department of Westfield State University, a two-year study showed that the insect populations within Kinne Brook prior to the dam removal were diverse, healthy and productive. This is encouraging as declining fish populations should rebound quickly now that stream connectivity is being restored and the riparian area improved.
New England Culvert Project Coordinator
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