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Life: Revealed

Preserving history while restoring
a river’s natural systems
Shannock Village, Richmond and Charlestown, Rhode Island

Dams constructed on Rhode Island streams and rivers up through the early 20th century brought waterpower for new industry but also created barriers to the fish runs that supported valuable ocean fisheries. Adaptations to the iconic Horseshoe Falls dam in Shannock Village, RI are helping restore critical ecosystems and bringing the natural migratory fish and eel populations back to the Pawcatuck River.

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In addition to the intricacies inherent in reestablishing eel and fish runs, designing a structure for a constrained footprint, and working near a fragile historic stone masonry spillway, coordination with three property owners to address aesthetic concerns was required. To account for these distinct influences, numerous in-house services had to coordinate their efforts including geotechnical, structural, mechanical and civil engineering, hydraulic modeling, and landscape architecture, which included repair/restoration of the historic structures. We partnered with other firms for wetland assessment and surveying.

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The Horseshoe Dam project is one of three along the Pawcatuck River with the goal of reestablishing lost migratory fish routes. Since installation, there
have been observations of eels passing through the eel pass assembly, which is a huge validation for this first-of-a-kind approach. The fish ladder has
been operational since the 2012 spring passage season, allowing fish to pass upstream for the first time since the dam was originally built
circa 1730. will continue stocking fish and monitoring passage to restore populations to this part of the river
and upstream spawning areas.  The USFWS and Rhode Island’s Division of Fish and Game will continue stocking fish and monitoring
passage to restore populations to this part of the river and upstream spawning areas.

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  • Call us toll free at 800-286-2469
    146 Hartford Road, Manchester, CT 06040