Bridgton to seek grant to aid fish passage

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The Town of Bridgton has signed on to an innovative state program that targets culvert improvements that would have the added benefit of helping fish get upstream.

The Board of Selectmen agreed to apply for a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Gulf of Maine Coastal Program. The funds, anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000, would pay to replace a “very undersized” round pipe culvert on Brown Mill Road that provides passage for 1.1 miles of brook trout habitat. If awarded, the culvert would be replaced with around 20 feet of a natural-bottom structure underneath the road.

The Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited helped to identify projects in the Casco Bay Watershed that would improve fish passage, with an emphasis placed on high-quality habitat. The Brown Mill Road culvert project ranked among the first third of around 25 identified projects.

Many of the projects were located in the Lake Region, although several sites were identified along the Royal River in the Yarmouth area and the Prescumpscot River in the Westbrook area. Lake Region locations listed in the project list included the dam at Nason’s Brook in Sebago, the Crooked River Rock Ramp in Bolster’s Mills and an unpaved town crossing on North Bridgton Road in Sweden.

Additional funding may be necessary in succeeding years, but Bridgton Town Manager Bob Peabody said selectmen always have the option of not accepting the grant if it is awarded. The board agreed that the funds would benefit the town by freeing up money for other culvert work in town.

“I don’t want people to get the idea that we’re doing it just to help the fish,” Selectman Chairman Bernie King joked.

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