Durham Votes To Remove Mill Pond Dam On Oyster River

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) — After more than a decade of discussion, Durham is moving ahead with the removal of a dam on the Oyster River.

The Durham Town Council voted 7-2 this past week to remove the Mill Pond Dam, which was developed at the turn of the century to replace a timber dam built in the 1600s, NHPR reported. Thousands of dams once supplied hydropower during the colonization of New England.

Paul Pouliot, of the Cowasuk band of the Penakook-Abenaki people, supported the dam’s removal as a matter of environmental justice.

“These colonial dams, by the colonial English and Puritans, was always about industry, and no regard for the land and the people who were on it,” he said. “It was all about making money at the sacrifice of the Indigenous people, Indigenous foodways, foodways for everybody, and all of the fish and the aquatic life which really were dependent on free-flowing rivers."

Melissa Paly of the Conservation Law Foundation said removing the dam will improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat. But advocates for repairing and preserving it said that the pond above the dam provides aesthetic and recreational resources for the families who ice skate and paddle there.