Volunteers Power Herring Count

  • April 18, 2017
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The 2017 Ipswich River herring count is off to a great start! Volunteer counters have begun seeing herring at the Ipswich Mills Dam fish ladder over the weekend of April 15th and volunteers from the Nor’East Chapter of Trout Unlimited saw several herring at the Willowdale Fish Ladder near Foote Brothers Canoe. Last year, volunteers counted about 100 river herring at Ipswich Mills, which is good compared to other years, so we hope this is a sign of progress and that the numbers keep increasing.

Chet Walsh and other Trout Unlimited volunteers installing flow control baffles at the Willowdale fish ladder.

The volunteers have been central to the success of this program. Counters have been participating in the program for the past 18 years to monitor the number of herring entering the Ipswich River on their annual spawning migration.  This effort has generated valuable information on the state of the herring population, which has resulted in better management of the fish ladders on the Ipswich Mills Dam and at the Willowdale Dam. By doing individual, 10 minute counts, volunteers like Lindsey Williams have accumulated many hours over the years of watching for herring. We would also like to recognize volunteers from the Nor’East Chapter of Trout Unlimited, including Chet Walsh, for their initiative to maintain the Willowdale fish ladder so fish can more easily climb up around the dam through a series of concrete chambers.

Contributions by volunteer counters and groups are leading towards better conditions for migrating river herring. This will lead to more improvements over time through dam removal and construction of larger road crossings. Some of this has taken place, but there is much more to do. You can help us by volunteering to count herring. Contact Ryan for more information. You can also learn more about the work of the Nor’East Chapter of Trout Unlimited.