Finally, the dam is a liability for downstream users because of its age and construction. If the dam blows, it will probably take someone with it.
Ultimately the dam creates a situation where very few, if any, salmon are able to travel upstream and spawn naturally. As a result, the state continually stocks the fishery to maintain the illusion that the river is healthy and can support recreational fishing. Last year alone, the State released 168,117 landlocked salmon into Lake Champlain and its tributaries. The same pattern of stocking has been occurring semi-regularly since 1975. I realize that the removal of the Willsboro dam is not a cheap proposition; however the continual stocking of salmon without any natural reproduction puts a serious burden on taxpayers just the same. Removing the dam would allow the Boquet River to incubate salmon instead of the State contracting that same service out to fish hatcheries.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Boquet River “management” is that it convinces sportsman like me that the fishery is healthy. We can go fishing and (if very lucky) catch a salmon. Catching salmon gives us the false perception that all is well and we needn’t enter the conservation fight. This is a missed opportunity for fisherman who would otherwise become champions for the dam-removal cause.
I hope that the dam in Willsboro, however scenic, will soon become a relic of the past. I also hope that truly wild salmon will once again inhabit the Boquet, and perhaps my children will fish here one day and experience a taste of what Sameul de Champlain saw upon arriving in present-day Essex County.