Falls River fishway to aid migratory fish

Essex — A fishway completed Thursday on Falls River will benefit such migratory fish as alewife and blueback herring, as well as migrating American eel and other resident fish, The Nature Conservancy said Friday.

Reconnecting rivers by removing dams and building fishways improves river health by increasing species diversity and providing fish access to more and varied habitat, and the work at the privately owned Tiley-Pratt dam will open the way for fish to access an additional 2½ miles of river, as well as a half-acre pond above the dam, the conservancy said in a news release.

Falls River is part of the Connecticut River system.

Located at a former mill site, the Tiley-Pratt dam has a stone wall-lined channel that was modified with a rocky ramp and five stone weirs.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff assisted with construction. The Essex Land Trust and the dam’s owner also provided financial and other support for the project. The conservancy is working with the land trust to develop and install an educational sign describing fish passage and river restoration strategies at the land trust’s nearby Tiley-Pratt Preserve.

The Tiley-Pratt dam project also was one of three conservancy fishway projects supported by an $85,000 grant award from The National Fish and Wildlife Foundations’ Long Island Sound Futures Fund.

Portions of the Long Island Sound Futures Fund grant also will support work at Coleytown dam on the Aspetuck River in Westport and a dam on Beaver Lake in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The grant required a conservancy match of close to $60,000, secured through donor support and in-kind contributions.

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