Oil spill settlement funds stream crossing upgrades
CHARLESTON, Maine (WABI) - ”The value of each of these crossings is astronomical for a small town.” said Terri-Lynn Hall, chair of the selectboard for the town of Charleston while standing next to a half-finished bridge over Crooked Brook.
Five stream crossings in Charleston and one in Hampden are being replaced as part of a collaborative project between local, state, and federal agencies.
Project team representatives met Wednesday to see progress on the crossings. Stream restoration specialist Alex Abbot pointed out the problems with the old crossing on west road.
"There were two culvert pipes here. They were set too high. They were too small. They weren't able to manage the big rainfall that would come every spring and every fall."
Terri-Lynn Hall and selectman Keith Scott said the crossings were prone to damage during storms, costing the small town money frequently. “They washout every year. Sometimes a couple times a year.”
400,000 dollars of funding for the project comes from a 2016 settlement with Chevron for an oil spill in the Penobscot river. The town of Charleston has been seeking funding since 2008.
Susanne Miller, regional director of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, was happy to see the progress. ”This project is a great example of how environmental programs really do work for local communities.”
Dirigo Timberlands Company, based in Madison, was hired to construct and install the crossings, providing work to more than 20 people. Blaine Miller was on site coordinating the work.
"Our company builds approximately seventy or eighty of these types of structures a year."
Work started last week and is on track to wrap up next week. The structures are expected to last up to 100 years.
“Not only do you get an infrastructure upgrade you get an ecological upgrade along with it.” he said.
Crooked Brook is a tributary of Kenduskeag Stream, which then flows into the Penobscot.
Members of the US Fish and Wildlife service, Department of Marine Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation were there to see the progress on the project.
John Burrows, with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, says the project is great news for local wildlife, especially fish.
”We’re opening up twelve miles of habitat for salmon, trout, eels, sea lamprey and blueback herring.”
Abbot explained that despite low water levels, the brook was brimming with life when they assessed and prepared the site before construction.
“We pulled out of this site some two hundred fish. Just from this tiny little site that’s running relatively dry.”
Hall says the project means a lot to the town of Charleston, providing more reliable connections to emergency services while improving the environment.
"For other communities that are in the same situation that we've been in for years with washouts and these things. Go out. Explore. Contact these organizations and these companies and don't be fearful of the process."
Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.