March 9, 2014 What a winter we've had--snow, ice and bitter cold! Nonetheless, work on the fish ladder is going well. We embarked on an ambitious project in November, with the tasks of completing the stonework on thirty partially-completed pools (mostly capping walls) and building the final 16 pools of the fish ladder. The Jorgensen crew built two shelters, one for each task, and the work has been progressing well --nearly all of the capping is complete and work on the new pools is well underway. Concrete footings were just poured for the final seven pools and the walls will be poured this week. The stonework on the other nine new pools is about two-thirds done. It's a been a really tough winter but, despite the conditions, we'll be be ready for alewives in late April.
We (and the fish!) are grateful for grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Elmina Sewell Foundation, the Horizon Foundation, the Davis Conservation Foundation, the Edward Myers Conservation Trust and from support from many individuals and businesses!!
Directions to the Fish Ladder
Take the Damariscotta exit to business Route 1. Go straight at the stop sign just past the Congregational Church. Take Route 215 north for approximately 1.6 miles. Look for a parking area just past the Austin Road on the left. Or, take the next left into the Fish House parking lot. Follow the path behind the fish house and you are there. Coming south on Route 1, take the Damariscotta exit and take a right on Rt 215 across from the Louis Doe Home Center. The parking lots decribed above are about 1.3 miles on the left.
Welcome to historic Damariscotta Mills, Maine – home of Maine’s oldest fish ladder and most productive alewife fishery. The fish ladder was constructed by the Towns of Nobleboro and Newcastle in 1807 at the state’s request after mills had blocked access to the fresh water falls for nearly a century. In 2007, after two centuries of use, the fish ladder needed a major restoration and the project was initiated by the Towns in collaboration with the Nobleboro Historical Society. Restoration of the fish ladder is critical to the health of the Damariscotta River alewife stocks. Alewives are an important part of the food chain and they contribute to the health of the marine environment and to the lakes and streams where the fish spawn. In the spring, alewives serve as a source of fresh bait for local lobstermen who are setting out gear after a winter ashore. The Towns of Newcastle and Nobleboro have harvested alewives since the 1700s and, by balancing conservation and economic goals, they have carefully tended the Damariscotta River alewife stocks. Today, all funds received for harvested alewives are spent to maintain and restore the fish ladder and harvesting area.