Breach of Milford beaver dam upsets some residents

MILFORD – A few residents joined environmental activist Suzanne Fournier Monday night as she continued to criticize town officials for breaching the dam at Heron Pond.

Fournier, who wrote in a letter to the editor of The Cabinet last week that removing part of the dam will harm many animal species, told selectmen someone should have consulted the twon Conservation Commission and teachers at the nearby Heron Pond elementary school before the work was done.

“Many teachers are very upset about the loss of this beautiful pond,” she said, and the reasons given for the breach “are not credible.”

David Burris of Colburn Road said the breach might have disturbed a great blue heron rookery, where the birds return year after year.

Mary Jane Burns of Brookview Drive said the pond might not be back to normal until spring.

“I’m upset,” she said. “It could have been handled so much better.”

Selectmen did not respond to the comments, but Fred Elkind, the town’s environmental programs coordinator, said last week that no real harm was done to the dam or the pond by the breaching, which was done in August.

The Conservation Commission is looking into the possibility of installing a pipe and fence system, he said, that could help control beaver activity, as Fournier has suggested.

The dam was breached because there were concerns about the height of the water and its potential to damage property downstream on Whitten Road, said Elkind, and the high water also threatened the area the DPW uses for gravel-removal staging as well as the access road to the school.

Department of Public Works employees, he said, carefully removed part of the dam “inch of inch” to do as little damage as possible.

In making a decision about breaching a dam, he said, the town tries to balance potential harm to natural resources to the potential harm to property.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.