This morning I read about the problem at Capron Pond in Smithfield RI. I’d visited via the Stillwater Scenic Trail back in 2018 and took this picture of the dam.
After examining historical satellite imagery of the watershed in Google Earth Desktop, I’m not sure the pond will survive in it’s traditional form. I say traditional because this is a mill pond so it hasn’t been a natural habitat since 1895 1.
The historical imagery shows pretty clearly that this tiny section of the Woonasquatucket River has changed levels many times from droughts and floods. So I think it’s unlikely anyone will be able to make a persuasive argument from an environmental perspective that the dams’ gate must be fixed.
Many dams are opened up, or removed, every year in the Blackstone River watershed to stop or prevent damage to property, or reduce dam maintenance costs. I felt very bad when the beaver dam in the Dark Swamp was taken out and many species lost their habitat, like is now happening at Capron Pond.
There are a few ways I see this ending with a traditional level of water being maintained in Capron Pond. The first and fastest is if the current dam owner decides it’s in their best interest to raise the water level. The next fastest way is for the residents who border the pond to buy the dam and take over the maintenance. An option that could take many years to implement is convincing the town of Smithfield to buy the dam for recreational and historical purposes.
I wish the best of luck to the residents as they try to work out this issue.
- Historic and Architectural Resources of Smithfield, Rhode Island , page 37, Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission
Valley Breeze Articel: Resident at Capron Pond seeks help with failed dam control door