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Project description: The Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) was awarded a grant from the Gulf of Maine Council to restore approximately 250 feet of riparian buffer habitat at the site of the former Smelt Hill dam in Falmouth, Maine. CBEP selected Northern Ecological Associates, Inc. (NEA) a consulting firm with expertise in riparian restoration, to design and oversee implementation of the project. Presumpscot River Watch, a local nonprofit organization whose volunteers sample water quality throughout the watershed, coordinated with abutting landowners and volunteers.

Project objectives and goals: The overall project objective was to restore a native vegetated riparian buffer at the highly visible site of the 2002 Smelt Hill Dam removal, where the natural shoreline was covered with riprap and gravel. Another objective of the project was to reduce erosion due to stormwater runoff at the site. Given that much of the Presumpscot River is dammed, and that head of tide areas areimportant habitat in coastal rivers, a contiguous vegetated buffer and associated detrital inputs provide high value habitat in even in this short stretch of unimpounded river. Specific project objectives were to:

  1. Create a stable runoff drainage channel and repair and stabilize slumping areas.
  2. Create a simple pond/wetland area to slow runoff, distribute a sheet flow of water, allow some settling of sediment, and absorb pollutants.
  3. Increase vegetative cover along the unimpounded section of the river and increase the structural and floristic diversity of the entire site.
  4. Eradicate invasive plants at the site and establish native vegetative cover.
  5. Create a more visually appealing riparian strip.