Peggy's Pond: A Historical Perspective, and Exciting Changes Ahead
By Jay Kullman, Kelly Beerman, and Adair Arbor
Nestled within the serene and scenic landscape of Farm & Wilderness’ protected forests, Peggy's Pond has long been a cherished part of this environmental haven. However, recent developments are set to transform and improve the future of this unique ecosystem.
In the 1960s,F&W acquired the land around Peggy's Pond from its namesake, Peggy (a Rockefeller), along with a dam that was constructed with government funding. At the time, it was believed that the dam would have environmental benefits. However, as the decades passed, it became evident that human-made dams were not as environmentally favorable as initially thought.
In the 1980s, the aging dam came under scrutiny, and it underwent periodic inspections by government regulatory bodies. A few years ago, a crucial decision loomed on the horizon: whether to rebuild or dismantle the dam. After careful consideration, F&W’s Board of Trustees chose the latter option, influenced by the growing awareness of the environmental impact associated with dams.
The path to dam removal was not hasty or arbitrary. F&W embarked on a comprehensive journey that included a full ecological survey, site assessment by the Agency of Natural Resources, consultations with experts in lakes and ponds, stream alterations, river specialists, and wetland assessments. The involvement of the Army Corps of Engineers further solidified this thorough, long-term evaluation of the site. The outcome was unanimous – the removal of the dam was deemed the most suitable and environmentally responsible course of action.
Securing a grant of $50,000 marked a significant milestone in the process. This funding allowed F&W to engage in public design and permitting, culminating in a well-structured plan for the dam removal. The collaboration with different stakeholder agencies resulted in the successful acquisition of five different permits, each vital to the project's progression.
As the project advanced into its next phase, a more substantial grant of $180,000 was obtained. This funding is designated for the dam removal and the comprehensive site restoration plan that accompanies it. The project encompasses various aspects, including floodplain restoration, the facilitation of aquatic organism passage, the potential for cooler water temperatures that may invite brook trout, and diligent management of sediment and site stabilization.
The positive outcomes of this endeavor are manifold. Notably, F&W has previously had to remove beavers from the area due to dam safety concerns. However, as the dam removal project progresses, there will be no need to deter them. As Jay Kullman, Resource Director, aptly expressed, "Now we can roll out the welcome mat for the beavers again!"
Throughout the planning process, F&W has forged a meaningful partnership with a local Abenaki elder who has been providing guidance on the project. In particular, a restorative planting plan and schedule for reforestation are being developed. F&W has extended an open invitation for further collaboration if it benefits the Abenaki community, and is equally receptive to partnerships with other local organizations and communities.
The timeline for the project is intricately tied to the permitting process, but there is hope and optimism that the work will commence in the coming year. A contractor has been secured for the project, signifying the forward momentum of this transformative endeavor. The initial phase of site stabilization, led by Jay Kullman and Kelly Beerman, Conservation Director, will first focus on erosion protection, followed by site staking, with trained volunteers participating in the later planting work.
This project is very much a collaborative effort that encompasses a wide array of stakeholders, from the local community to F&W staff members including Kelly Beerman, Conservation Director, and Colene Reed, Farm Director, and numerous other agencies and organizations. It is a testament to the power of collective action in realizing a shared vision of ecological restoration and sustainability.
Peggy's Pond is on the cusp of positive transformation. The decision to remove the dam is not just a change in infrastructure, but a testament to F&W's commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability. As the project moves forward with the promise of ecological restoration and collaborative partnership, Peggy's Pond is poised to become an even more cherished and vibrant part of this environmental sanctuary.