Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letter to the DEP IV

Regarding the proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers to possibly remove the Ben Smith and other dams along the Assabet River.

December 20, 2009

To Whom It May Concern,

I am adding my voice to those against the Corps’ dam removal proposal. Dam removal is NOT the best solution. I’m aware that many have written letters more eloquently—some with greater knowledge of the details. I join them in saying that removing the dams would have more of a negative than a positive impact on the Assabet River.

I have attended three meetings presented by the Army Corps of Engineer during the past two years. From the beginning, the studies and viewpoints seemed to me to be distorted (mostly
one-sided) and disingenuous. There were no details put forth initially on the impact dam removal would have on certain areas of the Assabet (such as in Stow). No study was done on the environmental impact. If some portions of the river are all but “disappeared” what happens to those areas, the water supply, the residential and business wells, the water-life, wild-life, recreational use, etc. as a result?! It also seems to me:

• Allowing the destruction of some of the most beautiful, vibrant, and useful portions of the Assabet Rver and surroundings should NOT be allowed.

• These areas are used and enjoyed by many, including kayakers, hikers, canoers, hunters, fishemen, families—as well as treasured abutters and those living in towns near the Assabet.

• Not only is the Assabet a source of beauty and a haven for wildlife, we in Stow depend on it as a source of water (wells) and fire protection (from the river water).

• A great part of the solution lies in holding the water treatment plants responsible for higher standards; towns with water treatment plants pouring their waste into the river should be held accountable for better treatment facilities; for educating their residents and businesses to use less-polluting substances that end up in the Assabet; to cut back on the waste amount they can put into the river.

My husband I have been abutters to the Assabet River since moving to the Gleasondale area of Stow in 2001. It was the magnificent beauty, the wildlife, and the serenity of this portion
of the river that drew us here. “A “pocket of peace!” is how a visiting friend from Holland refers to it. Not a day goes by without us counting our blessings and good fortune to have our home be this sweet and semi-wild Assabet River! Daily we celebrate the abundant wildlife that inhabit these environs: red-tailed hawl, heron, owls, frogs, a variety of fish species, turtles, muskrats, otter, fisher-cat, river snakes,several duck species, to name just some. As one neighbor down the road put it, “we don’t even have to drive to Maine for this.”

We are aware that over the years many have put in immense effort in cleaning up the river (such as OAR) and bringing it to its current standard. As this is our “back yard” we not naturally want to protect this, and we also feel a responsibility to do whatever we can to protect the Assabet River and wetlands for the future. Once gone, it will not come back.

Finally—as I consider proposed “solution” of dam removal, I cannot help but wonder: Who is getting to decide (and how) which portions of the Assabet River to possibly destroy in order to “save” the river?

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