The McGoldrick Dam was a privately-owned structure. It was a six-foot high, 150-foot long timber-crib dam that had been capped in concrete. The size of the impoundment created by the dam was recorded as approximately five acres. It did not provide a flood control function. The dam served no purpose to the owner – the McGoldrick Paper Company – and was in disrepair.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's anadromous fish restoration program has identified the Ashuelot River as important habitat for the reintroduction of American shad, a native fish species that has been greatly impacted by dams. Since 1995, NH Fish and Game has been working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to restore and enhance migratory fish populations in the Ashuelot River, a major tributary of the Connecticut River. Atlantic salmon fry have been stocked since 1985, and American shad and blueback herring have been reintroduced since 1998. The pending return of the adult shad to the Ashuelot River (typically four or five years after stockings) has prompted the need for upstream fish passage, which will likely include the elimination of obsolete barriers to fish movement and the construction of fish passage facilities.
The stretch of river that has been restored to free-flowing condition through the McGoldrick Dam removal will realize the desired fish restoration goals when upstream fish passage is installed on the Fiske Mill Dam, which is located immediately downstream of the McGoldrick project site and is the lowermost dam on the Ashuelot River. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department have requested the Fiske Mill Dam owner to prepare functional downstream fish passage design plans. [The trigger to require fish passage installation will be the return of American shad and river herring to the Ashuelot River, expected in the spring of 2003.] These fish will be the progeny of adult shad and herring that have been stocked in the river since 1998 (typically these fish spend four to six years at sea before returning to freshwater to spawn). In each subsequent year, Ashuelot-origin migrant numbers should increase as multiple year classes return to the river.