Carver Cotton Gin Dam Removal Begins in East Bridgewater

A coalition of public and nonprofit partners is removing the Satucket River dam to benefit public safety and ecology. Press availability set for 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 16.

EAST BRIDGEWATER, MA | October 12, 2017

Excavators soon will begin chipping away at the Carver Cotton Gin Dam, which has held back the Satucket River for decades. The dam’s removal will provide critical access to fish species that haven’t been able to get upriver from the site the last 150 years, while also benefitting public safety by reducing the risk of flood damage to nearby roads. 

The dam removal was brought about by a partnership of nonprofit groups, state, federal, and local agencies. The removal will allow migratory species like river herring and American eel to access an additional 13 miles of river habitat, as well as 652 acres of upstream lakes and ponds. The Carver Cotton Gin Dam is the first major barrier spawning herring encounter on the Satucket River as they’re traveling upstream from the sea via the Taunton River. 

  • Media availability is set for 10 a.m.-noon on Monday, Oct. 16 at 15 Whitman Street, East Bridgewater. For more information, including parking details, please contact James Miller, or 857-600-6603. RSVP appreciated. 

“The removal of the Carver Cotton Mill Dam will improve public safety, restore valuable fish and wildlife habitat, and increase the Town of East Bridgewater’s resilience to climate change,” said Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ronald Amidon.  “The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to work with municipalities and nonprofits across the state to repair or remove damaged dams that present a real threat to residents and infrastructure and are detrimental to our natural resources.” 

Alison Bowden, director of rivers, coasts and oceans for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, said, “Northeastern rivers average seven dams for every 100 miles of stream – some of the most fractured river systems in the country. By restoring the Satucket River’s connection to the Taunton River watershed, we can bring this system back to life, allowing hundreds of thousands of river herring access to upstream areas they haven’t been able to reach in generations.” 

The Taunton River is one of the only free-flowing rivers in New England, and restoring fish passage to a major tributary like the Satucket River will have great significance for the river’s famed river herring run, which is one of the largest in the region. After spawning upriver, these fish return to Narragansett Bay, where they will feed the groundfish that are so critical to New England’s commercial fishing industry and culture. 

To ensure out-migrating American eel are not being disturbed by the project, a portion of the river is being allowed to flow continuously through the site while work is happening.  

People, too, will benefit from the Satucket River Restoration.  The Carver Cotton Gin Dam was built in 1842, and like many of the more than 3,000 dams on Massachusetts rivers, it was constructed to power a mill that no longer exists. The dam has been deteriorating because of age, and if it were to fail, it could destabilize the Route 106/Plymouth Street Bridge immediately upstream. 

Local interest and Town of East Bridgewater support for the dam removal project dates to the late 1990s, initiated by early work from the Plymouth County League of Sportsmen. 

“I know a lot of residents, including outdoor enthusiasts, are excited this project is underway. I’m certainly one of them,” said John Fabroski, an East Bridgewater resident and president emeritus of the Plymouth County League of Sportsmen.

“Herring passage on the Satucket River was on the agenda when I became the League’s president in 1998, and seeing the herring run again will be a truly welcome sight. I appreciate the work of so many people to make it possible.”  

Funding for this project is provided in part by the following:

  • Massachusetts Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Program;
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center;
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, through a  Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation;
  • The Nature Conservancy;
  • Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration; and
  • Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

“By removing dams like this one that are hazards to local communities, we not only improve community resilience, but also restore access to valuable upstream habitats for river herring and other sea-run fish. These fish are prey for popular recreational and commercial fish, such as striped bass and cod,” said John Bullard, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. “We appreciate the support of the project's many partners in making this happen.” 

"Removing the Cotton Gin Dam will re-establish access to critical upstream spawning habitat for migratory fish, while reducing the risk to public infrastructure from flooding,” said Eric Derleth, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. “Projects like this make the community more resilient to storms, offer improved recreation opportunities, and support the local economy." 

Fast Facts:

  • Dams were first constructed on the Satucket River in the mid-1600s.  The Carver Cotton Gin Dam was built in 1842.
  • Removing the dam will help stabilize and protect the Route 106/Plymouth Street Bridge, which is one of the most traveled thoroughfares in town and an important route between East Bridgewater, Brockton, and Plymouth.
  • The Satucket River Restoration will make 13 miles of river habitat available for river herring and other species and restore access to 652 acres of spawning grounds at Robbins Pond and Monponsett Pond. 


The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

James Miller
The Nature Conservancy


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