Smelt Brook Dam Removal


In 2017 DSF purchased a 6.7-acre parcel on Ocean House Road in Sullivan as the first step in a multi-faceted land conservation and habitat restoration project. The property surrounds the head of tide of Smelt Brook--which was blocked by a stone dam for over fifty years. Historically Flanders’s Bay boasted commercial smelt and tomcod harvests as well as recreational native sea-run fisheries. We intend to restore ecosystem productivity by providing space for the salt marsh to re-establish, and provide an outdoor classroom for the nearby high school.

In September of 2018 DSF removed the granite-faced timber cribbing and rubble dam to reconnect Smelt Brook to Smelt Cove, contribute to fisheries restoration in Flander’s Bay and open up habitat for sea-run fish like Brook Trout, Rainbow Smelt, American eel, tomcod, and lamprey.

In the winter of 2018, our monitoring efforts found that tomcod had returned to the mouth of Smelt Brook to spawn. The work we have been doing for decades has enabled us to harvest and celebrate the return of the rainbow smelt. We are continuing to expand and enhance that effort throughout the Downeast Coast.

It’s important that small cold streams like these remain connected to the sea and for natural tidal flows to reach salt marshes to maintain a healthy ecosystem.


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