The Third Herring Brook is a 5 miles tributary to the North River that forms the town border between Norwell and Hanover. Historically, like almost every coastal stream in our area, this brook supported a large population of river herring – hence the name! The Third Herring Brook Restoration Project focuses on improving the continuity and streamflow of the Third Herring Brook. Our goal is to restore fish passage for river herring and Eastern brook trout by removing the 3 of the 4 dams on the stream and then putting a fish ladder under Rt 123 for fish to access Jacobs Pond. Completing the Third Herring Brook restoration to its headwaters at Jacobs Pond would result in 5 miles of the mainstem opened (9.7 miles including tributaries) and access to 62 acres of spawning habitat at Jacobs Pond.
3 Dams Removed, ~10 miles of Stream Habitat Reconnected
There were four dams on the Third Herring Brook that fragmented the river, prevented fish migration, and degraded river habitat. Mill Pond Dam, owned by the South Shore YMCA was the first dam we removed on the Third Herring Brook in October of 2014. Downstream, the Tack Factory Dam, owned by the Cardinal Cushing Centers, was removed in late 2016/early 2017. In November of 2020, the Peterson Pond dam, owned by the Hanover Mall was removed. This was the last dam to be removed on this brook, resulting in the opening up 5 miles of mainstem and 9.7 miles with tributaries. The removal of the 3 dams on this brook has led to the return of Eastern Native Brook Trout using the mainstem and the brook being classified as a Coldwater Fish Resource by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts providing additional protection. In addition, our river herring count volunteers have observed increasing numbers of river herring passing the former site of the Tack Factory dam, as they expand their range further upstream!
Further information regarding each dam that has been removed is described in these fact sheets about each dam removal. ThirdHerringBrookDamFactSheets
Future Fish Passage Restoration to Jacobs Pond
The last impediment to fish passage on the brook is Jacob’s Pond Dam, 1.3 miles from Peterson’s Pond Dam, owned by the town of Norwell with a culvert under a state-maintained road – Route 123. We hope to start work at this site with Norwell and Mass Highway on fish passage in the near future!
Where’s the Water?
You can’t restore a river without water and in the Third Herring Brook human water demand is decreasing streamflows. Since 2008 streamflow has been monitored at three locations on the Third Herring Brook in partnership with MassDER through their volunteer RIFLS program (you can volunteer too!). The Third Herring Brook watershed supplies the drinking water wells in the towns of Hanover and Norwell. These water supplies, particularly in the summertime, reduce streamflows in the Third Herring Brook, when water withdrawals in both towns increases substantially due to lawn irrigation. Both towns participate in our WaterSmart regional water conservation program and we continue to work with the communities to implement strategies that will reduce their summertime demand.
Partnering for Restoration – The restoration of Third Herring Brook is truly a group effort! Important partners include the MA Division of Ecological Restoration (MassDER), NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center, Mass Bays South Shore Program, Cardinal Cushing Centers, South Shore YMCA, the Hanover Mall (PREP) and the Towns of Norwell and Hanover.
With additional financial support from USDA, USFWS, Massachusetts Environmental Trust, The Sheehan Family Foundation, Trout Unlimited, Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition, Sylvester Foundation, the Conservation Law Foundation and many private donors and members!
Read more about the power of partnerships here.
- Community Programs
- Estuary Explorers
- River Adventures Camp
- School Programs
- Winter Nature Challenge (Formerly WaterWatch Lectures)
- Workshops and Conferences
- Healthy Rivers
- Dam Removals
- South River Restoration
- South River Restoration
- Third Herring Brook Restoration
- Improving Water Quality
- Shellfish Beds
- Streamflow Restoration
- First Herring Brook Restoration