Alaskan Steeppass Fishway Discussed

The Rochester Conservation Commission met Tuesday night and a majority of the discussion revolved around the future construction of an Alaskan Steeppass fishway at the Hathaway Pond Dam.

Brad Chase of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and Tom Cook, who is the designer and engineer for project, both presented the Commission with their plans for the construction of the fishway, which is designed to help improve the flow of river herring upstream for spawning. The men were at the Commission’s meeting for a Request for Determination of Applicability for the project, which was unanimously approved.

“It’s a project we fully support,” said Chase.

The plan is to replace a former fishway that is currently ineffective with a new structure constructed entirely of aluminum, except for the bolts, which will be stainless steel. It will take place in the center bay of the three bays at the pond.

Doug Beaton, the owner of the property where the project will take place, also owns Beaton’s, Inc., which will do the majority of the work on the fishway. The only part of the project that would not be done by Beaton and his crew would be the initial pile driving at the site.

According to Chase, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service had already conducted a review of the site, which was funded by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

Cook said that he’s confident on the measurement of the site that had already been conducted, but before they begin work, they’ll have Beaton re-measure the site. He also said that he envisions the project taking no more than five days; however, he said that it would be up to Beaton. He added that they’d like to get the project done as soon as possible.

“We would like to get it done before the herring run [around April 15],” said Chase, but he warned that weather could have an effect on the start of the project. “If we get three inches of rain in mid-March, it’s not going to happen. The conditions could come up where all the sudden we can’t do it.”

“There’s a lot of interest in this particular location,” said Laurell Farinon, the Conservation Agent for Rochester. “We applaud the effort of Mr. Beaton.”

She also commended everyone else who had put work into the project to ensure that it went smoothly.

The next Conservation Commission meeting will take place on Monday, April 1.

By Nick Walecka


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