Pine Tree Brook – Trout Habitat
Pine Tree Brook in Milton, Massachusetts is home to a rare and beloved population of native brook trout. Located just two and a half miles from Boston, the Pine Tree Brook trout population is the last remaining population that is easily accessible to city residents, and is one of only two self-sustained populations in the entire Neponset River Watershed. Losing them would be a major educational, cultural, and natural heritage loss to the community.
These brook trout are currently under threat due to urbanization and habitat fragmentation. A series of three dams within the headwaters of Pine Tree Brook are preventing the trout from accessing high value habitat further downstream and from being able to return to the headwaters to reproduce in autumn. Removing the dams is critical for the long term survival of this population.
Brook trout are sensitive to high water temperatures. It is well documented that the ponds created by dams cause heating effects that linger well downstream of the dam itself. So by removing these dams we are not only allowing free movement for the trout to access the areas that they need, we are also improving habitat quality by eliminating heat stressors and restoring a more natural temperature regime. In addition, this project bolsters previous downstream investments of over $400,000 in green-infrastructure upgrades aimed at cleaning up stormwater pollution, alleviating some of the impacts of urbanization, and helping to restore water quality in Pine Tree Brook.
The Neponset River Watershed Association (NepRWA) has been planning the removal of these dams for several years in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, The Town of Milton, Wentworth Institute of Technology, The Massachusetts Corporate Wetland Restoration Program, Trout Unlimited and Corona Consulting; among others. This past summer a team of volunteers led by NepRWA staff successfully completed the first phase of the project by creating a passable channel through the second dam in the series of three.
* Project removes artificial barriers that restrict passage and/or natural flow of water for some period of the year