Great Dam Removal Completed in Exeter, NH

Great Dam, Photo Town of Exeter, NH
Great Dam, Photo Town of Exeter, NH

On Friday, September 9, the town of Exeter, New Hampshire, celebrated the removal of the Great Dam and the restoration of the Exeter River.

“Removing the dam opens access to more than 21 miles of river habitat to sea-run fish,” said Eric Hutchins, a habitat restoration specialist with NOAA Fisheries. “Alewife, blueback herring, sea lamprey, and American eels all spend part of their lives in the ocean and part in fresh water. They are a critically important part of healthy freshwater and nearshore marine ecosystems.”

At a site visit in August, Hutchins was surprised to see hundreds of American eels already using the new channel in the midst of the construction. It took just days for these fish to find their way home, after nearly 4 centuries.

The approximately $2 million price tag for the dam removal was supported by more than $757,000 from NOAA, including a $610,960 grant from the NOAA Habitat Resiliency Program to fund the construction phase of the Great Dam removal. Numerous other federal and state agencies also contributed to the feasbility, design, permitting, and construction phases of the project.