The WRP has completed a project to remove the Killooleet Dam from the White River’s Hancock Branch.
From August to September 2018 the WRP worked with partners to remove the remnants of the Killooleet Dam and to raise streambed elevation along 500 feet of the Hancock Branch.
Identified as a high-priority in two state-funded reports, the project opens 87 miles of stream to fish passage; improves in-stream habitat and channel stability; and reconnects the Hancock Branch to the floodplain along its north bank.
The Killooleet Dam was originally built in the early 1900s to feed a private trout fishing pond. The dam was damaged during the 1927 flood, but was rebuilt when a summer camp was created at the site of the former trout fishing club.
According to the Camp Killooleet website, “Founded in 1927 by Margaret Bartlett and Toni Taylor, Killooleet has been owned and directed by the Seeger Family for over sixty years.” John and Ellie Seeger passed the business along to their daughter Kate and her husband Dean Spencer in 1998.
The dam was damaged during a flood in 2008, then breached during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Remnants of the dam blocked a portion of the Hancock Branch and kept the stream from accessing the floodplain along its north bank.
In 2017 the WRP received funding to develop priority projects identified in the state-funded Upper & Middle White River Corridor Plan (2015). The Plan identified 2 high-priority projects along Camp Killooleet’s property: removing the Killooleet Dam and reconnecting floodplain along the Hancock Branch.
The project developed after Kate Seeger expressed an interest in partnering on both projects and funded the engineering design to expedite implementation. Working closely with Kate and engineering firm Ripple Natural Resources, the WRP applied for and received VT Ecosystem Restoration Program funds to implement both in-stream projects in 2018.
After finalizing the design, applying for permits, and advertising for bids, the project partners hired Harvey’s Excavating (Rochester) to construct the in-stream project components during summer 2018. Harvey’s removed the Killooleet Dam in August, breaking apart the concrete dam remnants and removing the pieces. In September Harvey’s built 3 channel-spanning rock weirs along a 500-foot stretch of the Hancock Branch using large stone and native rock found on-site.
Removing the Killooleet Dam opens 87 miles of stream to fish passage and the free-flowing movement of sediment, ice, and debris, including 36 miles upstream and 51 miles downstream of the former dam site.
Building 3 channel-spanning rock weirs along 500 feet of the Hancock Branch reconnects the stream to an adjacent floodplain by raising the streambed elevation and improves fish habitat by creating pool habitat and channel roughness.
Working with partners to restore fish passage is one important way the WRP accomplishes its mission: bringing people together to improve the long-term health of the White River and its watershed. Since 2008 the WRP has worked with partners, funders, and 5 towns to complete 14 culvert replacement and dam removal projects, opening 212 miles of river in Hancock, Pomfret, Randolph, Rochester, and Sharon.