Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
P/cloudy
28°
P/cloudy
Hi 33° | Lo 8°

Kestrel Land Trust seeks input on fate of Lake Warner Dam

  • This is a view, looking north, of Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley. Mount Warner Road crosses the lake just behind the dam.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    This is a view, looking north, of Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley. Mount Warner Road crosses the lake just behind the dam.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • The right abutment, foreground, of the Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley is seen from River Drive.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    The right abutment, foreground, of the Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley is seen from River Drive.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • This 1952 historical marker faces River Drive in N. Hadley adjacent to Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    This 1952 historical marker faces River Drive in N. Hadley adjacent to Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • This 1952 historical marker faces River Drive in N. Hadley adjacent to Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River. According the plaque, the first corn mill and dam were built on this Mill River about 1670; the present concrete dam was started in 1918.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    This 1952 historical marker faces River Drive in N. Hadley adjacent to Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River. According the plaque, the first corn mill and dam were built on this Mill River about 1670; the present concrete dam was started in 1918.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lake Warner Dam holds back the Mill River in North Hadley.<br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Lake Warner Dam holds back the Mill River in North Hadley.

    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • The right abutment, foreground, of the Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley is seen from River Drive.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    The right abutment, foreground, of the Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley is seen from River Drive.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • This is a view, looking north, of Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley. Mount Warner Road crosses the lake just behind the dam.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • The right abutment, foreground, of the Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley is seen from River Drive.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • This 1952 historical marker faces River Drive in N. Hadley adjacent to Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • This 1952 historical marker faces River Drive in N. Hadley adjacent to Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River. According the plaque, the first corn mill and dam were built on this Mill River about 1670; the present concrete dam was started in 1918.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Lake Warner Dam holds back the Mill River in North Hadley.<br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • The right abutment, foreground, of the Lake Warner Dam on the Mill River in North Hadley is seen from River Drive.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

As a result, the Massachusetts Department of Dam Safety has issued an order to repair or remove the dam by the end of 2014, but the land trust that owns it is asking the town to take responsibility.

“It is not within our mission to own or maintain a dam. Our expertise is in land conservation,” said Kristin DeBoer, executive director of the Kestrel Land Trust, which took ownership of the dam when the trust merged with the Valley Land Fund in 2011.

Under Massachusetts dam safety laws, the dam owner is responsible for making decisions about the maintenance, repair or removal of a dam.

Last week the trust held an informational meeting on the issue that drew roughly 100 people to Hopkins Academy.

Amy Singler, associate director of River Restoration from American Rivers, a nonprofit river advocacy group in Northampton, Beth Lambert, river restoration scientist with the Division of Ecological Restoration of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game and engineer Morris Root of Root Engineering attended at the invitation of the trust. Each gave short presentations on dam repair and the financial and ecological ramifications of dam removal.

“We are pleased with the turnout,” DeBoer said. “Our goal is to provide information on the condition and the repair or removal of the dam so that the town can understand the options that lay before us.”

According to DeBoer, the Kestrel Land Trust does not have the financial resources to remove or repair the dam. It is talking with town officials about Hadley taking ownership of it and asking Town Meeting in October to appropriate Community Preservation Act funds to leverage state grants for the dam’s repair, which Root said could cost between $300,000 and $500,000.

If the town declines, the trust would seek state and federal grants to have it removed, DeBoer said.

The trust has hired Root, at a cost of $25,000, to inspect the dam and issue a report on the extent of repairs needed and the probable cost.

Root said the study should be done next month.

“At this point we have only done a preliminary look at the dam. We know it is an old structure overlaid with concrete and some of that concrete is just popping off,” he said.

The dam is listed on the historic register in Hadley, but according to Root, detailed construction information regarding how the structure was built is missing.

“We know when it was built, and we are expecting some sort of stone composite under the concrete,” he said.

“Often, the repair expense is three times the expense of removal, and replacing a dam is even more expensive,” Singler said during last week’s meeting. The Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration is determining the feasibility, cost and ecological benefits of removing the dam to re-establish the flow of the Mill River, Singler said.

According to Lambert, 29 dams throughout Massachusetts have been removed and 20 to 30 more are in the planning stages to be dismantled.

Most who attended last week’s meeting said they were mainly interested in gathering information before forming an opinion on the dam’s future.

“Obviously people will want to know the actual cost of each alternative,” Bianca Benevista of Hadley said. “But I think that people also want to know about how will it change the environment if it is removed, if kayaking and fishing will still be possible on the river, and what effect it might have on property owners in the area.”

Donald Dion said he grew up in town and used to fish in the lake. “Now the swans are there and it is just beautiful. It’s like a piece of art,” he said. “I would be opposed to taking the dam away.”

DeBoer said that the Kestrel Land Trust will keep residents informed as the impact, costs and advisability of each alternative are further explored.

More information is available by calling the trust at 549-1097 or emailing info@kestreltrust.org.

The Kestrel Land Trust works with landowners, governmental agencies, citizen groups and other organizations to protect farmland, woodlands, wildlands, wildlife habitat, water resources, historic landscapes, and rare and endangered species habitat. The organization has been able to conserve more than 19,000 acres of Pioneer Valley wildlands, woodlands, farmland, and riparian areas, according to its website.

Related

Massachusetts dam facts

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Office of Dam Safety maintains records of all dams in the state. It ensures compliance with acceptable practices pertaining to dam inspection, maintenance, operation and repair. ∎ According to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, there are approximately 3,000 dams in Massachusetts, many of which are in poor condition. ∎ In Massachusetts …

Legacy Comments2

I am a small hydroelectric developer (see www.kchydro.com to contact me) who would love to retire in Hadley. On October 4, 2013, I filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sell electricity from this dam, if a financially viable project can be developed with the collaboration of the Kestrel Land Trust and other stakeholders.

I'm a Hadley resident and I've used this lake for kayaking with friends so we can see the wildlife scenes, turtles, muskrats, swans, ducks, and the list is long! This dam with several upgrades have been there since the late 1600's. I urge the owner of this dam to fix it so new generations could continue to enjoy this lake. We know that this lake is dying due to the lack of attention from the town and the State. (Hadley is well known already for letting their properties run into the ground). I think that the state and federal funds should be expended to save the dam and the lake. Nobody should remove the dam unless the owner files an environmental impact report to the state and I'll be there are tons of unknown pollutants lying on the lake's bottom.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.