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 4 miles of the mainstem opened (9.7 miles including tributaries) and access to 59 acres of spawning habitat at Jacobs Pond.
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. These two dam removals restored connectivity on the mainstem of Third Herring Brook up to Peterson’s Pond dam owned by the Hanover Mall.
Future Restoration – Petersons Pond Dam and Jacobs Pond Dam
Peterson’s Pond Dam, is 3.7 miles upstream of the former Tack Factory Dam, owned by the Hanover Mall. As the Hanover Mall is undergoing redevelopment, they are also working with us to remove their dam. They have generously contributed money and time to the removal of this dam to help us to leverage other grant resources. We are currently through much of the design and permitting and hope to secure enough funding for a removal project in 2020.
The 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 was awarded Priority Project status by the MA Division of Ecological Restoration (MassDER) in 2012. Other important partners to restoring Third Herring Brook include the 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, NOAA Fisheries, Trout Unlimited, Sea Run Brook Trout, Sylvester Foundation, the Conservation Law Foundation and many private donors and members!