City councilors in Ellsworth voted Monday to approve the removal of an unused, city-owned dam, which would open 5 miles of Branch Lake Stream to Atlantic salmon and other species.
The council voted 7-0 to allow Town Manager David Cole to sign an agreement permitting the Downeast Salmon Federation to remove the dam this summer at Branch Lake Stream as it runs west from the northern end of Leonard Lake near Christian Ridge Road. The group will fund the $90,000 removal, said Brett Ciccotelli, a fisheries biologist with Downeast.
The dam’s removal will eliminate a public safety hazard and insurance liability for Ellsworth, and improve fishing and native fish habitats between Leonard and Branch lakes, Ciccotelli said. Besides salmon, it should allow species such as brook trout and blueback herring to return to the stream that runs between the two lakes, he said.
The fish populations should further increase once Brookfield Renewable makes required improvements to two hydroelectric dams it owns on the Union River at Leonard and Graham lakes, Ciccotelli said.
“To have this ready as those improvements are made, we think, is a good thing,” Ciccotelli said. “This will add some places for those fish to go.”