About the Bellmore Creek Fish Passage Project
In 2018, Seatuck was awarded the NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources Grant for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency to design fish passage at Mill Pond and restore critical habitat in Bellmore Creek. Fish passage is a means for fish to move through aquatic systems unobstructed by barriers, like dams or spillways. The Bellmore Creek project analyzed three different fish passage options and choose the one that is most appropriate for Mill Pond. Options included 1) dam lowering, where the dam is partially removed and the pond lowered to restore a more natural free-flowing system, 2) a nature-like fishway, where the pond is fully maintained, but the dam outflow (or spillway) is re-engineered to mimic a free-flowing stream condition, and 3) a technical fishway or fish ladder, which is a metal ramp or ladder placed within the spillway to allow fish to swim up and into the existing pond.
Seatuck has assembled an Advisory Committee to inform and help assess the decision about what type of fish passage may be most appropriate for Mill Pond. The Committee includes representation from Nassau County, NYS Department of Parks & Recreation, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Nassau County Soil and Water District, Town of Hempstead, the South Shore Estuary Reserve, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, South Shore Audubon, and the Bellmore Civic Association. Seatuck issued a request for proposals in April 2020 to engage an engineering firm to analyze and design fish passage options for Bellmore Creek. Princeton Hydro, a well-known environmental engineering firm with considerable experience with fish passage and riverine restoration, was selected for the project. They commenced the fish passage alternatives analysis in November 2020.
Why is this project important?
River Herring have been documented in Bellmore Creek – at the base of the Mill Pond dam – for the past several migration seasons; it’s one of only two-dozen streams on Long Island where remnant runs of the ecologically valuable fish still exist. Providing the fish with access to the freshwater spawning habitat upstream from the dam would allow their numbers in the creek to grow and provide momentum for overall efforts to restore populations throughout the South Shore Estuary Reserve.
River Herring are diadromous fish, meaning that they spend part of their life cycle in freshwater and part in salt water. These fish play a vital role in transferring ocean energy into estuarine, freshwater and upland habitats, and provide indispensable forage for countless other species. It is no exaggeration to say that they help to drive Long Island’s entire coastal food web. Rebuilding their populations across the region is a critical component in restoring the health of our estuaries. You can learn more about their role in our ecosystem and other priority restoration sites by visiting our Diadromous Fish page.
Additionally, Bellmore Creek has an interesting history of ecological and social uses of the stream. Learn more through our article “A Brief History of Bellmore Creek: The Ecological and Community Impacts.”
How can I learn more and get involved?
Stay up-to-date on the Bellmore Creek Fish Passage Project’s progress through our website, Facebook Page, and Instagram. If you’d like to get involved or attend an Advisory Committee Meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Bellmore Creek Fish Passage Alternative Chosen
On June 8th, 2021, Seatuck Environmental Association, Princeton Hydro, and Nassau County presented the three conceptual fish passage alternatives for Mill Pond, Bellmore Creek to the general public and surrounding community. You can watch the recording below, and read comments from the general public, the Bellmore Creek Advisory Committee, and Seatuck here: BC_SeatuckLetter.Comments_July2021. Seatuck submitted all comments and feedback to Nassau County and they ultimately decided to pursue a technical fishway for Bellmore Creek. Princeton Hydro will continue with the design phase for the technical fishway, and Seatuck along with the Bellmore Creek Advisory Committee will continue working towards its implementation.