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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release: May 16, 2016
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402

DEM, PARTNERS HOST TOUR OF NEW FISHWAYS ALONG SAUGATUCKET RIVER THIS WEEK

PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) - in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and other partners - will tour the newly reconstructed fishways along Saugatucket River in South Kingstown this week. The project enhances passage for river herring and access to historic spawning grounds.

WHERE: Main Street Dam and Fishway, 399 Main Street, Wakefield, Rhode Island

WHEN: Friday, May 20, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.

WHO: Phil Edwards, DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife; Andres Aveledo, DEM Division of Planning & Development; James Turek, NOAA Fisheries; Bryan Sojkowski, USFWS

"We're thrilled to join our many partners in marking the completion of this important project along the Saugatucket," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "It is such a joy to see the herring running and seamlessly reaching their historic spawning grounds in the Indian Lake. Already, thousands of fish have used the new Wakefield ladder, replacing the need for manual lifting and vastly improving the river environment. Kudos to all involved in making this project a reality."

The project - funded via a public, private partnership - includes reconstruction of the fishways at the Main Street dam and the Palisades Mill along the Saugatucket River; the river runs from Indian Lake in South Kingstown to Point Judith Pond in Narragansett. Improvements to the fishways include:

Main Street Dam and Fishway - Removed the lower section of the existing Denil fishway and constructed a new section to allow the entranceway to be moved closer to the toe of the dam; this helps migrating herring to more efficiently locate it. Baffles were installed at the fishway exit to slow the water flow, and the dam drain gate was reconstructed to improve juvenile fish out-migration.

Palisades Mill Fishway - The exit channel was extended to include removable baffles that allow water flow to be adjusted, and a walkway was constructed to improve operation and maintenance of the fishway.

"The Saugatucket River fish passage is a great example of how we both put natural resource damage settlement funds to good use, and provide technical assistance to restore habitat for sea-run fish," says Pat Montanio, director of NOAA Fisheries' Office of Habitat Restoration. "Healthy populations of river herring feed popular commercial and recreational species, such as striped bass, bluefish, bluefin tuna, cod, and haddock."

"Rhode Island is a leader in our regional efforts to reconnect fish to their historic habitats through dam removal, fish ladders, and other cutting-edge fish passage engineering efforts," said Wendi Weber, northeast regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The Service is proud to be a partner in these great projects on the Saugatucket River, providing funding and technical support. I am glad we can celebrate the return of river herring and other fish species, and celebrate the people and the organizations who have worked so hard on their behalf."

Funding for the $772,000 project was provided through the USFWS Sport Fish Restoration Program; North Cape oil spill settlement administered by NOAA, USFWS and DEM; NOAA's Rose Hill Landfill settlement funds; RI Coastal and Estuary Habitat Trust Fund administered by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC); and the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association. The Nature Conservancy and the Town of South Kingstown were also project partners.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM).

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