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Feds Pay To Fix Handful Of Northeast's Dams And Culverts

The East Burke dam in Vermont.
Charlotte Albright
The East Burke dam in Vermont.

The Northeast has more than 200,000 dams and culverts, what U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Cathy Bozek described as "barriers to water flow." She said many of the dams no longer serve their original purpose, and many of the culverts need work. 

Bozek is based at FWS Northeast Region office in Hadley, Massachusetts. The office covers Maine to West Virginia and has just released $1 million to fund 25 projects in the region.

One, to remove the East​ ​Burke​ ​dam​ in Vermont, will receive $50,000. The dam is located on a tributary to the Connecticut River. Bozek said it's in bad shape.

"Opening up this river by removing the dam will not only remove the liability to the owner and this safety hazard," Bozek said, "but also restore brook trout habitat."

The FWS also just funded several culvert replacement projects in Maine and New Hampshire. Bozek said many of the older corrugated metal pipes that carry streams under roadways are too small, cause floods and hamper aquatic life.

The service is considering future money toward a project in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. Bozek said if funded, it could help prevent road flooding and restore habitat for American eel and brook trout.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said there were roughly 200,000 dams and culverts in the Northeast that no longer serve a purpose. In fact, the FWS said those structures -- the majority of which are culverts -- no longer serve their "original" purpose. While many of the culverts need to be replaced or made larger, they still serve the purpose of allowing a stream to flow under a roadway.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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