A Barrier for Smelt
Smelt Brook has a perched culvert along Brookside Road in Braintree. The structure built by the Army Corps of Engineers blocks fish passage for Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax). The brook is named after these fish.
The perch is a 7.5 foot free fall to the stream bottom that Smelt cannot jump or swim up. This culvert has an NAACC Aquatic Passability Score: 0.00 and is categorized as a severe barrier with no AOP (Aquatic Organism Passage). See the full NAACC culvert survey report here.
The Towns of Weymouth and Braintree have an Army Corps of Engineers 1135 Grant to study the restoration of Smelt Brook. The study will look at potential impacts of the fish gate and perched culvert to Rainbow Smelt.
Historically there was an open stream channel and park at this location. Removal of the perched culvert and restoring a natural open stream channel with public access for open space passive recreation is the ultimate goal.
In 2021 the Army Corps of Engineers said that removal of the entire culvert is not feasible as it would change the hydrology of the flood control project. The studies are now looking at alternatives to build a fishway or fish ladder.
See letters of support for the 1135 Restoration study:
Smelt Brook Restoration Project Management Plan 2017
February 2021 Presentation
Directly Downstream of Culvert
Perched Culvert Outlet
Directly Upstream of Culvert