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Feds Pay To Fix Handful Of Northeast's Dams And Culverts

Toby Talbot
Removal of the Dufresne Pond Dam in Manchester, Vt., in 2013.

The Northeast has more than 200,000 dams and culverts, what U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Cathy Bozek described as "barriers to water flow." She said many of the dams no longer serve their original purpose, and many of the culverts need work. 

Bozek is based at FWS Northeast Region office in Hadley, Massachusetts. The office covers Maine to West Virginia and has just released $1 million to fund 25 projects in the region.

One, to remove the East? ?Burke? ?dam? in Vermont, will receive $50,000. The dam is located on a tributary to the Connecticut River. Bozek said it's in bad shape.

"Opening up this river by removing the dam will not only remove the liability to the owner and this safety hazard," Bozek said, "but also restore brook trout habitat."

The FWS also just funded several culvert replacement projects in Maine and New Hampshire. Bozek said many of the older corrugated metal pipes that carry streams under roadways are too small, cause floods and hamper aquatic life.

The service is considering future money toward a project in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. Bozek said if funded, it could help prevent road flooding and restore habitat for American eel and brook trout.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said there were roughly 200,000 dams and culverts in the Northeast that no longer serve a purpose. The majority of those structures are culverts. The FWS said while many need to be replaced or made larger, they still serve the purpose of allowing a stream to flow under a roadway.

This report comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.