Fish Ladder Restoration & Maintenance
Harbored within a protected Essex County Greenbelt property along the Ipswich River near the intersection of Topsfield Road and Winthrop Street lies an antiquated concrete fish ladder that had fallen into disrepair. With the blessing of MA Marine Fisheries in 2015, the Chapter undertook the task of revitalizing the ladder so that fish passage by herring, shad and coldwater species might be restored. Utilizing the engineering and design genius of Chett Walsh, boards were fashioned and fitted into the existing slots of each chamber for an even, controlled flow. After installation the boards were “tuned” on a regular basis to ensure that the increase in water elevation of each slot was manageable by migrating fish. The success of this effort was witnessed by members of the Chapter as they observed American eel and herring easily navigating the improved passage. While the long-term goal of this effort is to have the state install a modern, permanent fish ladder on the main stem of the River, the Chapter will continue to keep the existing ladder in a functional status with regular maintenance and oversight.
One of the few remaining cold water fisheries in eastern Massachusetts, Gravelly Brook originates in the protected 1200 acre Willowdale Forest, discharging into the Ipswich River near Bradley Palmer Park. While it has been established that native brook trout reside in the Brook, increasingly warm summers and periodic droughts threatened this delicate habitat. The Chapter’s 2015-2016 investigation of this Brook confirmed that much of its waters are springfed and that fish passage in certain locations is impaired due to failing culverts. Two small culverts are under review for possible replacement with structures that would meet the Massachusetts River and Stream Crossing Standards.