Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

Posted on November 4, 2014

6



Banner image is an abandoned mill on the Winnepesaukee River, just upstream of the Merrimack. I’ve never caught anything but bass in these wild waters. Click for full-sized image.

The Long-Lost Battle of Anadromous Conservation

Recently, I picked up a book by Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, partly because it’s been a long time since I read Walden, and partly because my parents live at the junction of the two rivers which form the Merrimack, and it has become my “home water,”  where I spend many hours. It’s literally across the street from the house. I’ve written about it previously in several posts.

I’m going to publish some excerpts from the book here, but first I want to tell you why it is still so important, probably more important than when it was penned. It’s not the first historic text I’ve read  lately which deals with fishing, but it does have something in common with the other texts I’ve read. Already when Thoreau wrote this (his first book, written in 1845, published in 1849, he actually went to Walden to edit it) he is bemoaning the impact men have made on the river, categorizing the current and lost species and the impacts of dams. In fact, in 1849 Henry David Thoreau is calling for forcefully removing dams to let the environment return to it’s natural state, and early on in the book he quotes texts from 1645, which give the earliest historical record of the fishing, and he comments that the anadromous (sea run) fish (e.g. salmon), were already gone. He is even cognizant of the fact that dam flows have completely disrupted the spawning cycles and downstream migrations! By the turn of the century, the other books I’ve been reading also decry the loss of stock, once so populous people used them to fertilize their fields. Try not to think about that on your next fishless day.

I want you to take a moment and ponder this in context. It could be written today, but it was written 166 years ago, at the beginning of the industrialization of the rivers. Thoreau came from a slower time and is, by virture of style, hard to read. A single sentence could contain more information than an entire day of the tweets we’ve learned to consume. I’ve edited out large chunks of the text here to stick to the main points, but I implore you to stick with it. It’s only a few thousand words, and there are pictures. Really awesome pictures by a local artist who knows these fish and has fished these waters.

In New England, every river town, like Franklin where my parents live, is still dominated by the ghostly hulks of the empty mills , looking  much like-war torn towns with the looming walls of brick broken up only by boarded up or smashed windows. The existing architecture is still largely row houses for the workers (in the valleys), or mansions for the owners (on the ridge lines). Like the timber industry here in the West, every tributary too big to jump across has some ruin or wreckage along it from the days of rape and plunder. In Manchester the factories flow along the Merrimack for miles. While the closing of the mills did clean up the rivers, according to the Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee:Quote9Most of these towns have never revitalized after the mills closed. Their economies have been in shambles for a century. And the fish have never come back either. Probably because the “clean up” never removed the dams that started the decline, including the Billerica Dam that Thoreau suggested taking a crowbar to in 1849! (Although ironically the mills saved the forests because even then they knew clear-cutting caused uneven runoff – floods – that made the mill outputs difficult to regulate. We could stop clear-cutting now if only there was downstream money in it.)

The Importance of Sea Run Species

Sea-run fish: trout, salmon, sturgeon, striped bass, lampreys, shad, Alewives, and I’m sure a few others I’m neglecting are super important to our environment. They are not just a food source for us. They are the only way sea minerals get returned to the land. And that is the only way they get into our bodies. In the West, salmon and charr migrate thousands of miles inland, and you can find salmon DNA in the old-growth trees. (If you can find old-growth trees.) Some species, like bear and eagles, rely on them to get their glut of protein before the winter. In turn the fish rely on these species to disseminate their gifts. These fish all require cold, clean, oxygenated water. They are not just a bell weather for the environment, they are crucial to it. We need these species to survive. This is why having a historical context and first-hand accounts like Thoreau’s are so important. What we are doing, and what we have been doing for centuries does not work, and yet we continue to do more of the same. The dams are there. The hatcheries are there. The fish are not there. The rivers might be “clean” but without fish, they are not healthy.

A Big Shout Out to NH Artist Matt Patterson

Matt is the author of Freshwater Fish of the Northeast, and he helped me illustrate my previous blog on trout specific to NH. He has very graciously let me use his images to illustrate Thoreau’s work. I hope someday to do a series of such books – old writings with new artists – so this is a great opportunity to work with somebody of his caliber. We had a bit of a problem with some species because the Latin names have been revised, and some of the species are just gone, but his work has added tremendously to this retelling of Thoreau’s tale. If you fish in the NE, or know somebody who does, I really recommend this book as some early Christmas shopping. It is my current coffee table book and everybody loves it, fisherperson or not. I’ve found species in there I have not been able to otherwise identify. Or get some very  nice prints at his site. I hope to someday soon do some fishing with Matt, maybe in the Concord, a river he fishes often.

patterson_book

With that I’ll leave you to a little Thoreau before giving you some historical data at the end.

The Concord River

Quote1

Whether we live by the seaside, or by the lakes and rivers, or on
the prairie, it concerns us to attend to the nature of fishes,
since they are not phenomena confined to certain localities only,
but forms and phases of the life in nature universally dispersed.
The countless shoals which annually coast the shores of Europe
and America are not so interesting to the student of nature, as
the more fertile law itself, which deposits their spawn on the
tops of mountains, and on the interior plains; the fish principle
in nature, from which it results that they may be found in water
in so many places, in greater or less numbers. The natural
historian is not a fisherman, who prays for cloudy days and good
luck merely, but as fishing has been styled “a contemplative
man’s recreation,” introducing him profitably to woods and water,
so the fruit of the naturalist’s observations is not in new
genera or species, but in new contemplations still, and science
is only a more contemplative man’s recreation. The seeds of the
life of fishes are everywhere disseminated, whether the winds
waft them, or the waters float them, or the deep earth holds
them; wherever a pond is dug, straightway it is stocked with this
vivacious race. They have a lease of nature, and it is not yet
out. The Chinese are bribed to carry their ova from province to
province in jars or in hollow reeds, or the water-birds to
transport them to the mountain tarns and interior lakes. There
are fishes wherever there is a fluid medium, and even in clouds
and in melted metals we detect their semblance. Think how in
winter you can sink a line down straight in a pasture through
snow and through ice, and pull up a bright, slippery, dumb,
subterranean silver or golden fish! It is curious, also, to
reflect how they make one family, from the largest to the
smallest. The least minnow that lies on the ice as bait for
pickerel, looks like a huge sea-fish cast up on the shore. In
the waters of this town there are about a dozen distinct species,
though the inexperienced would expect many more.

pumpkinseed sunfish

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

It enhances our sense of the grand security and serenity of
nature, to observe the still undisturbed economy and content of
the fishes of this century, their happiness a regular fruit of
the summer. The Fresh-Water Sun-Fish, Bream, or Ruff, Pomotis
vulgaris, as it were, without ancestry, without posterity, still
represents the Fresh-Water Sun-Fish in nature. It is the most
common of all, and seen on every urchin’s string; a simple and
inoffensive fish, whose nests are visible all along the shore,
hollowed in the sand, over which it is steadily poised through
the summer hours on waving fin. Sometimes there are twenty or
thirty nests in the space of a few rods, two feet wide by half a
foot in depth, and made with no little labor, the weeds being
removed, and the sand shoved up on the sides, like a bowl. Here
it may be seen early in summer assiduously brooding, and driving
away minnows and larger fishes, even its own species, which would
disturb its ova, pursuing them a few feet, and circling round
swiftly to its nest again: the minnows, like young sharks,
instantly entering the empty nests, meanwhile, and swallowing the
spawn, which is attached to the weeds and to the bottom, on the
sunny side. The spawn is exposed to so many dangers, that a very
small proportion can ever become fishes, for beside being the
constant prey of birds and fishes, a great many nests are made so
near the shore, in shallow water, that they are left dry in a few
days, as the river goes down. These and the lamprey’s are the
only fishes’ nests that I have observed, though the ova of some
species may be seen floating on the surface.Seen in its native element, it is a
very beautiful and compact fish, perfect in all its parts, and
looks like a brilliant coin fresh from the mint. It is a perfect
jewel of the river, the green, red, coppery, and golden
reflections of its mottled sides being the concentration of such
rays as struggle through the floating pads and flowers to the
sandy bottom, and in harmony with the sunlit brown and yellow
pebbles. Behind its watery shield it dwells far from many
accidents inevitable to human life.

There is also another species of bream found in our river,
without the red spot on the operculum, which, according to
M. Agassiz, is undescribed.

yellow perch

Yellow Perch

The Common Perch, Perca flavescens, which name describes well the
gleaming, golden reflections of its scales as it is drawn out of
the water, its red gills standing out in vain in the thin
element, is one of the handsomest and most regularly formed of
our fishes, and at such a moment as this reminds us of the fish
in the picture which wished to be restored to its native element
until it had grown larger; and indeed most of this species that
are caught are not half grown. In the ponds there is a
light-colored and slender kind, which swim in shoals of many
hundreds in the sunny water, in company with the shiner,
averaging not more than six or seven inches in length, while only
a few larger specimens are found in the deepest water, which prey
upon their weaker brethren. I have often attracted these small
perch to the shore at evening, by rippling the water with my
fingers, and they may sometimes be caught while attempting to
pass inside your hands. It is a tough and heedless fish, biting
from impulse, without nibbling, and from impulse refraining to
bite, and sculling indifferently past. It rather prefers the
clear water and sandy bottoms, though here it has not much
choice. It is a true fish, such as the angler loves to put into
his basket or hang at the top of his willow twig, in shady
afternoons along the banks of the stream. So many unquestionable
fishes he counts, and so many shiners, which he counts and then
throws away. Old Josselyn in his “New England’s Rarities,”
published in 1672, mentions the Perch or River Partridge.

The Chivin, Dace (book), Roach, Cousin Trout, or whatever else it is
called,  Leuciscus pulchellus, white and red, always an unexpected
prize, which, however, any angler is glad to hook for its
rarity. A name that reminds us of many an unsuccessful ramble by
swift streams, when the wind rose to disappoint the fisher. It is
commonly a silvery soft-scaled fish, of graceful, scholarlike,
and classical look, like many a picture in an English book. It
loves a swift current and a sandy bottom, and bites
inadvertently, yet not without appetite for the bait. The
minnows are used as bait for pickerel in the winter. The red
chivin, according to some, is still the same fish, only older, or
with its tints deepened as they think by the darker water it
inhabits, as the red clouds swim in the twilight atmosphere. He
who has not hooked the red chivin is not yet a complete angler.
Other fishes, methinks, are slightly amphibious, but this is a
denizen of the water wholly. The cork goes dancing down the
swift-rushing stream, amid the weeds and sands, when suddenly, by
a coincidence never to be remembered, emerges this fabulous
inhabitant of another element, a thing heard of but not seen, as
if it were the instant creation of an eddy, a true product of the
running stream. And this bright cupreous dolphin was spawned and
has passed its life beneath the level of your feet in your native
fields. Fishes too, as well as birds and clouds, derive their
armor from the mine. I have heard of mackerel visiting the copper
banks at a particular season; this fish, perchance, has its
habitat in the Coppermine River. I have caught white chivin of
great size in the Aboljacknagesic, where it empties into the
Penobscot, at the base of Mount Ktaadn, but no red ones
there. The latter variety seems not to have been sufficiently
observed.

The Dace, Leuciscus argenteus, is a slight silvery minnow, found
generally in the middle of the stream, where the current is most
rapid, and frequently confounded with the last named.

The Shiner, Leuciscus crysoleucas, is a soft-scaled and tender
fish, the victim of its stronger neighbors, found in all places,
deep and shallow, clear and turbid; generally the first nibbler
at the bait, but, with its small mouth and nibbling propensities,
not easily caught. It is a gold or silver bit that passes current
in the river, its limber tail dimpling the surface in sport or
flight. I have seen the fry, when frightened by something thrown
into the water, leap out by dozens, together with the dace, and
wreck themselves upon a floating plank. It is the little
light-infant of the river, with body armor of gold or silver
spangles, slipping, gliding its life through with a quirk of the
tail, half in the water, half in the air, upward and ever upward
with flitting fin to more crystalline tides, yet still abreast of
us dwellers on the bank. It is almost dissolved by the summer
heats. A slighter and lighter colored shiner is found in one of
our ponds.

chain pickerel

Chain Pickerel

The Pickerel, Esox reticulatus, the swiftest, wariest, and most
ravenous of fishes, which Josselyn calls the Fresh-Water or River
Wolf, is very common in the shallow and weedy lagoons along the
sides of the stream. It is a solemn, stately, ruminant fish,
lurking under the shadow of a pad at noon, with still,
circumspect, voracious eye, motionless as a jewel set in water,
or moving slowly along to take up its position, darting from time
to time at such unlucky fish or frog or insect as comes within
its range, and swallowing it at a gulp. I have caught one which
had swallowed a brother pickerel half as large as itself, with
the tail still visible in its mouth, while the head was already
digested in its stomach. Sometimes a striped snake, bound to
greener meadows across the stream, ends its undulatory progress
in the same receptacle. They are so greedy and impetuous that
they are frequently caught by being entangled in the line the
moment it is cast. Fishermen also distinguish the brook pickerel,
a shorter and thicker fish than the former.

brown bullhead (hornpout)

Horned Pout (Brown Bullhead)

The Horned Pout, Pimelodus nebulosus, sometimes called Minister,
from the peculiar squeaking noise it makes when drawn out of the
water, is a dull and blundering fellow, and like the eel
vespertinal in his habits, and fond of the mud. It bites
deliberately as if about its business. They are taken at night
with a mass of worms strung on a thread, which catches in their
teeth, sometimes three or four, with an eel, at one pull. They
are extremely tenacious of life, opening and shutting their
mouths for half an hour after their heads have been cut off. A
bloodthirsty and bullying race of rangers, inhabiting the fertile
river bottoms, with ever a lance in rest, and ready to do battle
with their nearest neighbor. I have observed them in summer, when
every other one had a long and bloody scar upon his back, where
the skin was gone, the mark, perhaps, of some fierce
encounter. Sometimes the fry, not an inch long, are seen
darkening the shore with their myriads.

white sucker

White Sucker

The Suckers, Catostomi Bostonienses and tuberculati, Common and
Horned, perhaps on an average the largest of our fishes, may be
seen in shoals of a hundred or more, stemming the current in the
sun, on their mysterious migrations, and sometimes sucking in the
bait which the fisherman suffers to float toward them. The
former, which sometimes grow to a large size, are frequently
caught by the hand in the brooks, or like the red chivin, are
jerked out by a hook fastened firmly to the end of a stick, and
placed under their jaws. They are hardly known to the mere
angler, however, not often biting at his baits, though the
spearer carries home many a mess in the spring. To our village
eyes, these shoals have a foreign and imposing aspect, realizing
the fertility of the seas.

american eel

American Eel

The Common Eel, too, Muraena Bostoniensis, the only species of
eel known in the State, a slimy, squirming creature, informed of
mud, still squirming in the pan, is speared and hooked up with
various success. Methinks it too occurs in picture, left after
the deluge, in many a meadow high and dry.

lamprey

Lamprey

In the shallow parts of the river, where the current is rapid,
and the bottom pebbly, you may sometimes see the curious circular
nests of the Lamprey Eel, Petromyzon Americanus, the American
Stone-Sucker, as large as a cart-wheel, a foot or two in height,
and sometimes rising half a foot above the surface of the
water. They collect these stones, of the size of a hen’s egg,
with their mouths, as their name implies, and are said to fashion
them into circles with their tails. They ascend falls by clinging
to the stones, which may sometimes be raised, by lifting the fish
by the tail. As they are not seen on their way down the streams,
it is thought by fishermen that they never return, but waste away
and die, clinging to rocks and stumps of trees for an indefinite
period; a tragic feature in the scenery of the river bottoms
worthy to be remembered with Shakespeare’s description of the
sea-floor. They are rarely seen in our waters at present, on
account of the dams, though they are taken in great quantities at
the mouth of the river in Lowell. Their nests, which are very
conspicuous, look more like art than anything in the river.

Quote2If we had leisure this afternoon, we might turn our prow up the
brooks in quest of the classical trout and the minnows. Of the
last alone, according to M. Agassiz, several of the species found
in this town are yet undescribed. These would, perhaps, complete
the list of our finny contemporaries in the Concord waters.

shad

Shad

Salmon, Shad, and Alewives were formerly abundant here, and taken
in weirs by the Indians, who taught this method to the whites, by
whom they were used as food and as manure, until the dam, and
afterward the canal at Billerica, and the factories at Lowell,
put an end to their migrations hitherward; though it is thought
that a few more enterprising shad may still occasionally be seen
in this part of the river.

Quote5It is said, to account for the
destruction of the fishery, that those who at that time
represented the interests of the fishermen and the fishes,
remembering between what dates they were accustomed to take the
grown shad, stipulated, that the dams should be left open for
that season only, and the fry, which go down a month later, were
consequently stopped and destroyed by myriads. Others say that
the fish-ways were not properly constructed. Perchance, after a
few thousands of years, if the fishes will be patient, and pass
their summers elsewhere, meanwhile, nature will have levelled the
Billerica dam, and the Lowell factories, and the Grass-ground
River run clear again, to be explored by new migratory shoals,
even as far as the Hopkinton pond and Westborough swamp.

Quote4

One would like to know more of that race, now extinct, whose
seines lie rotting in the garrets of their children, who openly
professed the trade of fishermen, and even fed their townsmen
creditably, not skulking through the meadows to a rainy afternoon
sport. Dim visions we still get of miraculous draughts of fishes,
and heaps uncountable by the river-side, from the tales of our
seniors sent on horseback in their childhood from the neighboring
towns, perched on saddle-bags, with instructions to get the one
bag filled with shad, the other with alewives.

Quote3

Shad are still taken in the basin of Concord River at Lowell,
where they are said to be a month earlier than the Merrimack
shad, on account of the warmth of the water. Still patiently,
almost pathetically, with instinct not to be discouraged, not to
be _reasoned_ with, revisiting their old haunts, as if their
stern fates would relent, and still met by the Corporation with
its dam. Poor shad! where is thy redress? When Nature gave thee
instinct, gave she thee the heart to bear thy fate? Still
wandering the sea in thy scaly armor to inquire humbly at the
mouths of rivers if man has perchance left them free for thee to
enter. By countless shoals loitering uncertain meanwhile, merely
stemming the tide there, in danger from sea foes in spite of thy
bright armor, awaiting new instructions, until the sands, until
the water itself, tell thee if it be so or not. Thus by whole
migrating nations, full of instinct, which is thy faith, in this
backward spring, turned adrift, and perchance knowest not where
men do _not_ dwell, where there are _not_ factories, in these
days.

alewife

Alewife

Armed with no sword, no electric shock, but mere Shad,
armed only with innocence and a just cause, with tender dumb
mouth only forward, and scales easy to be detached. I for one am
with thee, and who knows what may avail a crow-bar against that
Billerica dam?–Not despairing when whole myriads have gone to
feed those sea monsters during thy suspense, but still brave,
indifferent, on easy fin there, like shad reserved for higher
destinies. Willing to be decimated for man’s behoof after the
spawning season. Away with the superficial and selfish
phil-_anthropy_ of men,–who knows what admirable virtue of
fishes may be below low-water-mark, bearing up against a hard
destiny, not admired by that fellow-creature who alone can
appreciate it! Who hears the fishes when they cry? It will not
be forgotten by some memory that we were contemporaries. Thou
shalt erelong have thy way up the rivers, up all the rivers of
the globe, if I am not mistaken. Yea, even thy dull watery dream
shall be more than realized. If it were not so, but thou wert to
be overlooked at first and at last, then would not I take their
heaven. Yes, I say so, who think I know better than thou canst.
Keep a stiff fin then, and stem all the tides thou mayst meet.

Quote6At length it would seem that the interests, not of the fishes
only, but of the men of Wayland, of Sudbury, of Concord, demand
the levelling of that dam. Innumerable acres of meadow are
waiting to be made dry land, wild native grass to give place to
English. The farmers stand with scythes whet, waiting the
subsiding of the waters, by gravitation, by evaporation or
otherwise, but sometimes their eyes do not rest, their wheels do
not roll, on the quaking meadow ground during the haying season
at all. So many sources of wealth inaccessible. They rate the
loss hereby incurred in the single town of Wayland alone as equal
to the expense of keeping a hundred yoke of oxen the year
round. One year, as I learn, not long ago, the farmers standing
ready to drive their teams afield as usual, the water gave no
signs of falling; without new attraction in the heavens, without
freshet or visible cause, still standing stagnant at an
unprecedented height. All hydrometers were at fault; some
trembled for their English even. But speedy emissaries revealed
the unnatural secret, in the new float-board, wholly a foot in
width, added to their already too high privileges by the dam
proprietors. The hundred yoke of oxen, meanwhile, standing
patient, gazing wishfully meadowward, at that inaccessible waving
native grass, uncut but by the great mower Time, who cuts so
broad a swathe, without so much as a wisp to wind about their
horns.

The Current State of Affairs

After 30 years, the state of NH has finally stopped their attempts to bring salmon back, even though this species was once so important Manchester still  celebrates them as part of their history, and there is a statue of a salmon prominently displayed downtown.

Quote8

From the NH Fish and Game site:

“CONCORD, N.H. – A hopeful era drew to a close on September 5, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that, facing federal budget cuts and stubbornly low annual returns of sea-run Atlantic salmon, it will end its investment in the more than 30-year-long Atlantic salmon restoration in the Merrimack River watershed.

Things had looked promising as recently as 2011, when more than 400 Atlantic salmon made their way to the Essex Dam Fish Lift in Lawrence, Mass. But in 2012, just 137 sea-run salmon returned, and this year, as of July 10, 2013, only 22 returning salmon had been observed.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended its Atlantic salmon restoration in the Connecticut River in 2012.  In both the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers, salmon returns have been limited because of poor ocean survival, in-river habitat degradation, and dams that impede migration. “

This is actually good news, albeit much, much too late. It turns out the every hatchery program, every program, has shown to reduce the populations of that species in that river. That’s right every hatchery program in history has reduced historic returns, and yet when they tore down the Elwha here in Washington they built not one, but two hatcheries on the river, giving the hatchery zombies 5 years to repopulate over the native stock before reopening the rivers. It is estimated that every hatchery fish costs taxpayers $1,000 – $2,000, and yet these fish are part of the problem. Kind of makes the prices the Japanese pay for tuna look like a bargain, doesn’t it? (Please go see or buy Wild Reverence, a great film on our local anadromous species.)

Anadromous Fish Returns – Merrimack River

The data below is from the Central New England Fisheries Office.

Even striped bass, which are being heralded as the first and probably best recovery of any anadromous stock, have posted 0 returns this year. Tell me, what are the criteria for success here? Is it a few hundred fish back that we had a decade ago, or is it millions of fish back that we started with?

Even when I was young we used to fish for alewives using chicken wire baskets on the Lamprey River in Exeter. Sometimes, the fish were so thick, if you dropped the basket in the water you couldn’t pick it up, so we would scare the fish onto shore and put them into barrels with coal shovels. Over just the last 30 years, returns have dropped, one, two, three, four, as much as five orders of magnitude. You can see how each dam progressively stops more fish.

Fish Returns for This Year

Merrimack River
Essex Dam, Lawrence, Massachusetts
Counts as of July 11, 2014

Species

Total Returns to Date

Atlantic Salmon

41

American Shad

34,711

River Herrings *

33,517

Striped Bass

128

Sea Lamprey

4,923

American Eel

2,678

Gizzard Shad

29

*River herring refers collectively to two fish species: blueback herring and alewife

Merrimack River
Pawtucket Dam, Lowell, Massachusetts
Counts as of July 7, 2014

Species

Total Returns to Date

Atlantic Salmon

34

American Shad

3,396

River Herrings *

23,696

Striped Bass

0

Sea Lamprey

691

American Eel

0

*River herring refers collectively to two fish species: blueback herring and alewife

Merrimack River
Amoskeag Dam, Manchester, New Hampshire
No fish passage counts to date

Species

Total Returns to Date

Atlantic Salmon

0

American Shad

0

River Herrings *

0

Striped Bass

0

Sea Lamprey

0

Gizzard Shad

0

*River herring refers collectively to two fish species: blueback herring and alewife

That’s right. Zero. None. Nada. Zilch.

Historic Fish Returns

Historic Data
Anadromous Fish Returns
Merrimack River

Year

River Herring *

American Shad

Atlantic Salmon

1982

23

1983

4,794

5,629

114

1984

1,769

5,497

115

1985

23,112

12,793

213

1986

16,265

18,173

103

1987

77,209

16,909

139

1988

361,012

12,359

65

1989

378,973

7,875

84

1990

254,242

6,013

248

1991

379,588

16,098

332

1992

102,166

20,796

199

1993

14,027

8,599

61

1994

88,913

4,349

21

1995

33,425

13,861

34

1996

51

11,322

76

1997

403

22,661

71

1998

1,362

27,891

123

1999

7,898

56,461

185

2000

19,405

72,800

82

2001

1,550

76,717

83

2002

526

54,586

56

2003

10,866

55,620

147

2004

15,051

36,593

129

2005

99

6,382

34

2006

1,257

1,205

91

2007

1,169

15,876

74

2008

108

25,116

119

2009

1,456

23,199

81

2010

518

10,442

85

2011

740

13,835

402

2012

8,992

21,396

137

2013

17,359

37,149

22

TOTAL

1,817,934

718,206

3,748

All counts were taken at the Essex Dam Fish Lift in Lawrence, Massachusetts
*River Herring refers collectively to two fish species: blueback herring and alewife

Boy, what was going right in the late 80s and can we get back to it?

For further information about anadromous fish returns to the Merrimack River, please contact Central New England Fisheries Office.

When, you have to ask, is it too late?

P.S. Who Are You and Where are You From?

This month I’ve published over 15,000 words and hundreds of images. And while they are not all mine, it actually takes longer to research, transcribe, edit, and get permission than it does to just bang them out. Like Thoreau, I’m always interested in knowing if people find the work relevant. Please take time to leave comments, and definitely to share, not so much my work, but the important work others are doing to change the state of affairs.

Who is visiting me from the Ukraine?

WordPress gives me these awesome reports and I can see how people find me, where they live, how they found the blog, what pages they visited. I see people from Europe, Asia, South America, and I always wonder who they are. I would love to get comments from  you!

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