News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 24, 2012
Selectmen’s attention turns to Walker Pond outlet issues

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by Jonathan Thomas

Legal concerns and wildlife management issues at the Walker Pond outlet were the major topics as the selectmen of Brooksville and Sedgwick, held their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday morning, May 9, at the Brooksville Public Service Building. (Sedgwick Selectmen Colby Pert was unable to attend because of health reasons.)

Now calling themselves the Town Landing Committee, the selectmen began the meeting by discussing with their attorney, James Patterson, some remaining legal issues regarding the jointly owned public access land to Walker Pond off Route 15 below Caterpillar Hill in Sedgwick. After some discussion, the selectmen signed several documents relating to the two towns’ joint ownership of the property, and voted to table the issue of purchasing title insurance.

The wildlife issues discussed involved the complex relationship between the anadromous fish known as alewives, the beaver that inhabit the outlet area of the pond in Brooksville, and the water level of the entire pond. Present and active in the discussion were two State of Maine biologists, Claire Enterline from the Department of Marine Resources, and Greg Burr, from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Also active in the dialog was Ron Hawkins of Camden, second-generation owner of the land at the pond outlet, where the present dam and fishway are located, and also the site of a former mill.

Hawkins said he has been watching the alewives come up the Bagaduce River from the sea, and then up the Walker Pond outlet, through the fishway, and into the pond in the spring for many years. The fish spawn in the pond. Many of the alewives, especially the young fish return to the sea later in the year. He said the fish have been doing this since at least the late 1700’s, and generally “do not seem to have a problem.”

The speakers all agreed that issues of concern include the flow rate of water out of the pond and problems with the condition of the dam and fishway. Beaver activity near the outlet is a concern. Hawkins said that beaver dams built under the bridge, which are hidden from the view of passing motorists, are a major problem.

Hawkins said that it was unfortunate that the Maine Department of Transportation recently took out a dam under the bridge and released a large flow of water down the stream at a time when alewives were trying to make their way upstream. An outcome of the meeting was that local officials would contact the MDOT and request that they consult with wildlife biologists before taking such action in the future.

Officials agreed that beaver are important to the area’s ecosystem and what is needed is a “balance” between the various interests.

Committee chairman and Sedgwick selectman Neil Davis suggested the committee look at the options for the outlet area. Hawkins said he would be open to land he owns at the outlet being made available for public access “as long as people take care of it.”

In other business, committee members discussed how to deal with dog owners who allow their large dogs to run loose and bother other visitors at the landing site.

Volunteer John Kimball reported that the landing site had been awarded a $1,500 courtesy boat inspector grant from the Department of Environmental Protection Agency to hire part-time inspectors to prevent invasive plant species from getting into the pond. The selectmen agreed to details for advertising and filling the position.