Letters to the Editor

The Town of Durham will put before the citizens the following article (among others) on its March 8 ballot: “Shall the Town reverse the actions of the Town Council taken on November 1, 2021 to remove the Mill Pond Dam?”

It is NOT the right thing to remove the Mill Pond Dam. Above the Oyster River is the largest part of the highest rated wildlife habitat in New Hampshire, with at least 119 different species of animals (fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds—including the threatened northern leopard frog) and the open water, open space on which these species depend is a place where so many for so long have relished nature-watching, walking, skiing, skating, ice biking, snowshoeing, reaching contiguous trails, kayaking and canoeing.

The open water will go away if the dam is removed. What will remain will be mud flats, a very shallow and very narrow stream (trickle or nothing), groves of glossy buckthorn (picture to come of how it grows when water is replaced by turf). The 119 species will suffer or expire there—as well as in the small bit of Oyster River itself that will potentially remain, significantly more narrow and shallow itself, after dam removal. This impact includes endangered and threatened plant species (star duckweed, dwarf spike rush, and giant burr reed above the dam, including seaside brookweed and eastern grasswort just below the dam) along with the northern leopard frog. The American eel (a species of “special concern”) is also doing well therein.

Ironically, the two species mentioned by those in favor of dam removal, Alewives and blueback herrings, are not endangered or threatened, though of “special concern,” and—according to biologists and observant others who have been watching what happens when our specific dam has been opened in the past—will NOT be better off: Alewives need the still waters of a pond for their spawn, while the only area left for bluebacks will be above Thompson lane, as they need running water—but just when they need pools, late summer, the pools will be too shallow. The dam above ours, the UNH dam, will still exist, and there are sometimes scores of days no water passes over it into the lower river.

So much and so many are lost without our dam. It would be far better to clean up town and campus sources of pollution, release more water over the UNH dam and/or install a fish ladder or notch, and simply shore up our dam (a process MUCH less expensive than the dam removal process, to boot).

Why risk it all for but two species not likely to have their lots improved when we have so much fecundity now, including endangered and threatened species and OTHERS of “special concern”? Why let the Mill Pond, which functions as many ponds do, to retain what should not advance further, go away, thus releasing the toxic sediments that have entered it from College Brook and upstream sources into Great Bay and beyond?

These are but some of the reasons I plan to vote YES on article 2 on March 8 in Durham. I hope all voters registered in Durham will continue to think carefully about the right thing to do for Durham and Great Bay.




Diane P. Freedman

Professor Emerita

p.s. The hired consultants for the Town of Durham seem to have been gravely misinformed and misguided, despite any best intentions. Among other oversights, they offered three waterways it deemed comparable to ours, some 7x, 10x, and 22x the size of ours, each of which retained ponds and/or lakes after dam removal and no dam upstream from the dams removed. And even they still didn’t swell their fish runs. Anadromous fish runs have declined by at least a third in the last two decades, something that, sad to say, cannot, therefore, be attributed to dams per se. While research on much much larger systems may have yielded different conclusions/reports, the research to date is thin to non-existent in smaller systems, on smaller dams, and in New Hampshire.




Hello neighbors!

I live at Riverwoods, Durham and have really enjoyed getting to know the town and the campus. Many of us are very environmentally conscious here and do our best to reduce, reuse and recycle. I was the head of an adopt a highway group and twice a year, we picked up trash along our designated road. So, I have a real affinity for trash!

One of our residents here has made it a mission to pick up beer cans as she takes her daily walk-through town and campus. She is over 80 years old. One day recently, she picked up 80 beer cans, which she takes to the Durham Transfer Station on a regular basis. There is never a shortage of discarded cans!

So, I decided to appeal to all of you. We are old and trying to leave the world a better place for those who are younger than we are. You are young, as we were once. You are well informed about many issues, including this one. Please consider my plea, before you throw that can down. The effects are very far reaching. And remember, that a wonderful lady of 80+ years is picking those cans up!

Thanks much!

Catherine Kyle




Dear The New Hampshire, 

The November elections are a referendum on the Republican Party. The party’s never-ending efforts to undermine American democracy is THE issue.  We can talk about President Biden’s success in reviving the economy, confronting the pandemic, restoring our image around the world, or standing up to Putin, but that is all secondary to the main event.  The Republicans have finally erased any question about who they are with the head of the RNC declaring that the Trump-incited attack on the Capitol last year was “legitimate political discourse” (or as others in their party have purred: “They were really just tourists”).  The Republicans are primed for a new name: The Sedition Party, The White Citizens Party, The New Fascist Party.  Which do you prefer?  I’m kind of partial to “The Traitor Party” myself. 


Michael Behrendt 

Resident of Durham, NH