JRWA has had the Wapping Road Dam in its sites for a long time. There has been decades of talk about how to remove this obstruction in river, or at least get fish past it. In June of 2007 the Massachusetts Riverways Program (now the Division of Ecological Restoration) hired an engineer to conduct a preliminary assessment of the dam and suggest some alternatives for fish passage. The resulting report suggested several options – including full removal of the dam. In September of 2007 JRWA officially created their Ecology Program. One of the Program’s first missions was to follow up on this preliminary report and take it to the next level. And the first step in doing so was to secure funding for further analysis. In 2008 JRWA was successful in securing finding from the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment to conduct a Feasibility Study on the alternatives at the site. The Feasibility Study report was finalized in the spring of 2009 with a conclusion that full dam removal was the preferred option to meet all of the environmental, economic, and safety goals of the project.

With a clear plan in mind, the next step was to prepare the complex engineering designs and proceed the layers of required permitting. In July 2009 JRWA received funding from the Open Rivers Initiative to conduct these aspects of the project. Open Rivers Initiative is a federal program that provides technical expertise and financial assistance to remove dams and barriers and restore habitat for the many species that migrate between the ocean and the nation’s freshwater rivers and streams. This initiative contributes to sustainability of U.S. fisheries, provides an economic boost for communities, and improves public safety. In 2010 Open Rivers Initiate again funded the project – this time to provide the resource to actually implement the restoration effort.

Meanwhile, the project continued to receive support from the Division of Ecological Restoration who have come through with invaluable technical expertise and frequent, well-timed state funding. Massachusetts Environmental Trust has also provided state funding that provided the opportunity for monitoring and local outreach. All the while the Town of Kingston has worked as an active partner. The Town worked with the JRWA and the property owner to secure a riverfront parcel which will recognize the historic aspects of the site and provide public access. The property owner, Dan Galambos, graciously donated the full proceeds of the land sale back to the project to provide critical local funds.

The project has continued to escalate in terms of local support. Upcoming posts will describe the critical donations by private and public organizations to make this project really come to life. Check back frequently for status updates with lots of pictures and videos! It’s on…Un Dam It!