Head Tide Dam’s mostly done makeover heads for fete, check

Sun, 10/27/2019 - 8:30am

Weather permitting, Chris Cooper expects to get all the plants in the ground at Alna’s Head Tide Dam by Thursday, Oct. 31. The dedication of the site Atlantic Salmon Federation and partners made over is at 11 a.m. off Head Tide Road. And despite the Halloween date, those involved have reported nothing scary during the half million dollar project this summer and fall.

It took down an abutment and put an overlook over the Sheepscot River, added stone steps down the river bank and rebuilt a foundation wall of a mill the dam powered. ASF’s Maranda Nemeth said in email replies the overlook will open after it gets its railings in mid-November. “The railings will go around the overlook and continue down the stairs.”

She said Cooper’s Clear Pine Carpentry of Alna is installing the plantings; they’ll have a one-year warranty and ASF will give the town $14,500 as a “property maintenance fund ... to use as they see fit in the coming years.”

Most of the plants are native to Lincoln County, and all are native to Maine, Cooper said as he and Denise Bizer continued their work Friday. An Alna resident since 1975, the past selectman said he thinks the century-old, town-owned dam’s new look is fabulous. “I think it’s the ideal compromise between those who would have eliminated (the dam) and those who would have not touched it.”

Selectman Greg Shute is liking it, too. “The town is thrilled not only with the appearance of the site, but with the efforts of several citizen committees that worked with (ASF) to come up with a solution that will improve the fisheries of the river while maintaining traditional public use and documenting through signage the important role dams at Head Tide have played in our town's history,” Shute said in a new press release Nemeth sent Friday.

The release also shares the thoughts of a man involved since he pitched the idea of change in December 2014, as other environmental groups had tried before. “This is a great example of a project improving sea-run fish passage and river health while also achieving local community needs for the property,” ASF Vice President of U.S. Programs Andrew Goode said.

The plantings are one of the last steps, besides the check Alna will get Thursday and the railings coming next month. Among the species Cooper was planting were a large-leaf evergreen rhododendron he said is the only one that grows wild in Maine, and a river birch he noted is pinkish white now but might darken.

The dedication is open to all; on-site parking is limited. Contact Nemeth with any questions at maranda@asf.comcastbiz.net or at 725-2833.