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    Monday, August 08, 2022

    Two groups seek to repair dams on Long and Bush ponds in Ledyard

    Ledyard — The conservation group Lantern Hill Valley Association and the McKee Farm Trust have begun an effort to obtain state and federal grants to repair three Colonial-era dams on Long and Bush ponds.

    LHVA owns the dam at the south end of Long Pond and a stone-faced mill dam at the south end of Bush Pond. The MFT owns just east of the stone-faced mill dam.

    David Keehn, the president of the LHVA, said repairing the dam is important from safety, recreational and environmental perspectives. He added if the dams failed, the water could endanger downstream properties. 

    He said it would cost an estimated $1 million to repair the three dams, money the two small organizations do not have. He said state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection inspectors have said the dams need to be repaired, adding increased rains in recent years have made the projects even more necessary.

    As for removing the dams, Keehn said that is not an option as it would mostly drain the two ponds, which are popular with fishermen and boaters. There is a public boat launch on Long Pond.

    Keehn said the two groups have been working with state Sens. Heather Somers, R-Groton, and Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, to secure state funding for the work. They're looking for people to urge legislators to approve funding.

    "We need political support to make this happen," he said. "This seems like the time to make this happen."

    He said LHVA is seeking 501(c)(3) status as a tax-exempt organization so it can seek funding, as well.

    Keehn said LHVA also is working with the environmental group Save the Sound to install a fishway through the Long Pond Dam that will connect Whitford Brook into Long Pond. This will allow anadromous fish, such as river herring, which spend their lives in both salt and fresh water, to return to the pond for the first time in 350 years to lay their eggs.

    LHVA also is monitoring water quality in the ponds and studying ways to control invasive water plants.

    j.wojtas@theday.com

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