Since removing the dam would drop the water level upstream by about 5 feet and negatively impact wetlands, the decision was made to replace the existing dam with the new rock ramp structure. The new dam is made up of 6 gradually ascending stone weirs, which serve like terraced steps. Pools between the steps give fish a place to rest on their way up the falls. Gaps in the weirs create channels for water to flow, including the main current down the middle that forms a nice channel for paddlers.
The Bradford Dam is just one of a series of restoration projects on the Pawcatuck River. In 2010, the Lower Shannock Falls Dam was removed and replaced with a short rapid that allows fish to swim upstream, and paddlers to run downstream. In 2013, a rock ramp was built on the downstream side old Kenyon Dam. In 2016, the White Rock Dam in Westerly was removed. Combined with fish ladders at Potter Hill and Upper Shannock Falls, the removal or modification of these dams has opened up 31 miles of the Pawcatuck River to migratory fish.
Hopefully the water will be at a good level when we do our Bradford to Potter Hill trip on August 18th. It will be nice to run down the weirs rather than portage the old dam.
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