Workers are completing the last stage of the restoration of Lower Wellingsley Brook, a small cold-water stream that drains directly into Plymouth Harbor, through a joint state and town project intended to improve not only the brook but also the surrounding environment.
The $90,000 project removed three small dams, cleaned up trash from the riverbed, destroyed invasive plants in the stream’s corridor while replanting it with native species, and placed pieces of wood such as tree stumps in the restored main stream channel and floodplain.
David Gould, Plymouth’s director of marine and environmental affairs, said the town planned the project and worked with state agencies after receiving a petition from local residents asking for improvements to the brook and its surroundings.
“We have improved the neighborhood by enhancing water quality,” Gould said.
The brook is home to wild brook trout, other freshwater fish, and marine species such as American eel, said Alex Hackman, project manager for the state’s Division of Ecological Restoration, last week.
The project also restored the brook’s main channel, repairing a division into two courses as the stream reached the shoreline. A deeper channel is better for fish and other species, Hackman said.
“The rivers are an important component of larger landscape health,” Hackman said. “The restoration project not only improves the stream, but the whole landscape as well.”
Adding large pieces of wood to a streambed creates “scour pools” that sustain fish and insect populations, he said. “More insects feed the birds, bats, and dragonflies.”
Also known locally as Hobs Hole Brook, the brook discharges into the harbor near Nook Road, just south of Plymouth Center.
The environmental upgrade to Wellingsley Brook is one of a number of restoration projects that the state and the town have combined on to improve rivers and watersheds in Plymouth.
Three years ago, the town and the state collaborated on restoring 40 acres of the headwaters of the Eel River, a major cold-water stream that flows into the harbor south of Plymouth Center, by removing an old cranberry bog and other changes made by human activity. Another project improved stream flow in historic Town Brook by removing 19th-century dams.
A major restoration project is being planned for Beaver Dam Brook in Manomet.
River restoration helps increase migratory fish populations and sustain species that are important for both sport and commercial fishing, officials said.
“These projects greatly enhance marine and freshwater fisheries and habitat valuable to many wildlife species native to the area,” said Mary Griffin, commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game.
Robert Knox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.