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Second meeting on Walton’s Mill Dam is Wednesday

FARMINGTON - The second of three meetings on an upcoming vote to potentially remove Walton’s Mill Dam will be held Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Community Center. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

Three informational meetings were scheduled on the topic, hosted by the Farmington Conservation Commission. Last week's meeting, focusing on the history of the Atlantic salmon and the restoration efforts in the Kennebec River watershed, drew 50 residents to the Community Center.

The Oct. 10 meeting will focus on the ecology of dam removals and the potential impact to other fish and wildlife species. A final meeting on Oct. 24 will focus on previous dam removal projects in Maine and what impacts the removal of the Walton’s Mill Dam and associated park enhancements could have for the town's community, recreation and tourism in the future.

The meetings are being held in advance of a November vote on the fate of the dam, a 20-foot-tall structure built in the early 19th century. The town is currently in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act in regard to the dam, as it blocks Atlantic Salmon from accessing spawning and rearing habitat in Temple Stream. The town's current options include either installing a fish ladder, which would allow salmon to bypass the dam, or removing the dam entirely.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation, an organization dedicated to the conservation of the fish, has offered to cover the cost of removing the dam, as well as the installation of a park, the installation of a couple of new culverts that feed into the stream and some funds for annual maintenance. The total cost of that project, estimated at $1.2 million, would be paid for by ASF.

Fixing the dam, which would be required if it wasn't being outright removed, has been estimated to cost $350,000. That would increase the fishway option to an estimated total of $750,000. Most of that money would have to be provided by Farmington.

The Farmington Board of Selectmen voted 4 to 1 in favor of placing the dam's removal on the ballot at a meeting back in July. The question will go before the residents on the November election ballot.

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8 Responses »

  1. Here we go again. The ASF hasn't been honest with the town, or the people. Their answers to questions are vague. They are pushing for a vote in November. But there has been no "official" plan developed, nor any park improvements. Lots of pictures and text, but the town/selectmen don't have an OFFICIAL plan in place.
    So we're going to Vote in November, but have no real idea EXACTLY what is planned.
    The other thing is that the ASF has come with a monetary amount, but one fella asked 'IS THAT YOUR BEST OFFER?" No response from either ASF or the town manager.
    So...we pull down our dam, lose our pond, drive out the eagles, beavers and all the other wild life, with the grand plan to have salmon in Temple stream, but have no guarantee it will happen. NO GUARANTEE! In 10 years, if there is no salmon, except the salmon that have been put into the stream way up in Temple (cheaters), I think we should make ASF build back the dam.
    What about the abutters? Most will end up with a swamp in their back yard. Some will "technically" gain more land, but some won't, depending on how their deed is written. So if the ground dries out like the park designer says it will, people using the park will be allowed to access that land. What if the land owners don't want you there? I wouldn't, not after all the misinformation that's been driven down our throats.
    And then we have another issue. There used to be an ice house near the pond, and there are still ice cutting rights on the books. What happens if the heirs of that right decide to push to keep it? There has to be a pond if ice cutting is allowed. That probably wouldn't happen, but could. The town will then be liable.
    There are no accepted plans; that won't take place til later. I'm not voting for something that hasn't been decided! And I think the ASF should dig deep and make us a better offer. We have a major ace in the hole.
    VOTE NO!

  2. I vote for the Salmon! Dam removals have been successful throughout the state
    and have re-established ocean run fish to their native habitat.
    I support this effort and will ask my friends who fish to do the same.

  3. If the bleeding hearts at ASF can offer over 1M to remove the dam you would think a deal maker could convince them to do the fish ladder at 750K and let everyone win. As far as federal law goes if that bothers you than you better put the brakes on legalizing pot. Funny how people pick and choose what federal laws are ok to break.
    Sadly our leaders are apparently destined to cave to any acronym even when we hold the cards.(CMP come to mind?)

  4. Let us not forget the Eagle Act. Eagles and their nesting sites shall not be endangered in any way.

    Paragraph 4 clearly looks like an act of blackmail against the town of Farmington.

    The ASF proposal to remove the dam, just makes no logical sense. They would be better served by spending their money on figuring out the problem of fewer salmon returning from the ocean first.

    The presentation at the first meeting was excellent, but did not convince anyone that removing the dam made any sense.

  5. ASF is on one and only one mindset. And that is to remove all dams. They could care less about any alternate solutions.

  6. I'm pretty sure that if the stream is allowed to go back to its original channel, there will be wildlife. I'm also pretty sure eagles like streams, especially if the trout and salmon habitat has been improved. To say the stream will be completely devoid of wildlife is quite a stretch. Also what i heard at one of the meetings was that from other dams that have come out, the area revegetates very quickly with wetland vegetation which attracts all kinds of wildlife. I have also heard at these meetings very specific plans in place for the park improvements and dam removal, and the speakers have very much answered folks questions. It is almost as if we have been to different meetings, Nancy. I will be voting for fisheries, for wildlife, and for memorializimg the dam at the park, by voting to remove the dam.

  7. install a fishway and a hydro turbine. everyone wins. Temple stream is generations away from being a world-class Atlantic Salmon fishery.

  8. Hey "Facts".
    The stream is abutted by private property owners, and many deeds say their land goes to the stream or to the thread of the stream. Guess what? If those property owners don't want you on what will become more of their land, then they can prevent people from fishing. And I hope they do. The only public land is from Morrison Hill Bridge to before Harris cove on the park side and a short stretch below the bridge near the road.. The rest if private property. If the dam is removed, I hope the private property owners prevent access to the stream.
    And I also hope Walton Mill park doesn't become a party place. It's already a drug deal site. (yes, sir, it is and has been for a lot of years.)
    And if the wild life stay, as YOU predict, I hope we get some ambitious beavers in there to dam the stream.
    And from all the information shared at the previous meeting, it may be a very long time, if ever, we get salmon in Temple stream. It appears the statistics don't even support it. So salmon in the Sandy and Temple stream is really a stretch.
    I also think the Selectmen and Town Manager haven't pushed the ASF to their max for money. ASF has a lot of money to push their agenda, and I think their agenda should cost a LOT more.