COVID-19 pandemic delays Collins Pond Dam repairs, fishway installation

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — A plan to repair the more than 100-year-old Collins Pond Dam and install a new fishway has been delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to Gary Marquis, superintendent of Caribou Parks and Recreation.

Officials from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have been unable to travel to Caribou for their initial ground survey of the dam and surrounding area, Marquis said Wednesday. Without that survey, he is unable to work with either agency to draft designs for the fishway and make plans for the dam repairs.

“We cannot move forward [with construction] until we have a solid survey completed,” Marquis said.

Original plans announced last year had slated the construction for the new fishway and dam repairs to begin in July 2021. At that time, the costs for both aspects of the project were estimated at $125,000, with the recreation department looking into grant opportunities and the city creating an account for the project.

The ground survey and fishway designs will be conducted at no cost to the city.

Though the city initially planned to only repair the dam, the fishery was added after DIF&W told Caribou about the environmental benefits for trout swimming toward the Aroostook River, an important trout fishery. The Caribou fishery would provide a gradual rise for fish to climb and areas for fish to take breaks as they ascend.

Marquis previously spoke of the ice and rot damage that has occurred at the 20-foot-tall dam. A straight fishway would stretch from the back of the S.W. Collins parking lot to the bridge on Main Street, a total distance of 500 feet.