RUMFORD — Several people cautioned the Land Use Planning Commission on Tuesday evening to carefully consider plans to rebuild Middle Dam on Lower Richardson Lake in northern Oxford County.

The five-year project is being undertaken to meet Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements, according to Samantha Edwards of Brookfield White Pine Hydro. The company owns the dam at the outlet of the Rapid River in Township C.

The commission’s public hearing at Mountain Valley High School drew people from around Maine, including Bob Dionne of Vienna, a fishing guide on the Rapid River for about 25 years. He said he has visited the river for 40 years and he asked that Brookfield and the commission consider “what a beautiful place the Rapid River is … it’s a truly unique place, it’s one of the last places in the U.S. where you really can have a chance of catching a world-class brook trout.”

Betsy Ham, whose father was the dam keeper for many years, also urged caution with the project.

Ham, a member of Friends of Richardson Lake that seeks to preserve and protect the lake area, said she wants Brookfield and the commission to keep the aesthetics of the dam area in mind. She said the recent rebuilding of the Upper Dam on Upper Richardson Lake, changed her childhood home “forever, and not for the better.”

Ham of Bowdoinham said the permit to rebuild Middle Dam should “fully restore the working area with native plants” and use limited exposed riprap along the shoreline, and include a “living shoreline” with vegetated riprap.

Edwards noted the company’s work to prevent smallmouth bass migration in the area.

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Middle Dam at the outlet of the Rapid River into Lower Richardson Lake is proposed to be rebuilt to meet federal requirements. Submitted photo by Dan Small

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