In a $330,000 park-improvement project, contractors rehabilitated the original dam...

In a $330,000 park-improvement project, contractors rehabilitated the original dam and constructed the ladder so that fish can travel to the pond from Northport Harbor and even farther from Long Island Sound at Betty Allen Pond in Centerport. (Aug. 10, 2011) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Huntington Town and state officials hope to open an ancestral fish passage with the addition of a fish ladder to Betty Allen Pond in Centerport.

The man-made pond, the focal point of Betty Allen Nature Preserve, was created in 1977 by damming a creek, a town spokesman said.

In a $330,000 park-improvement project, contractors rehabilitated the original dam and constructed the ladder so that fish can travel to the pond from Northport Harbor and even farther from Long Island Sound, the spokesman said.

"In the long term, it should increase the amount of fish in the pond," said Eric Singer, environmental analyst with the town's department of maritime services.

The goal of the fish ladder -- which he said was the first on the Island's North Shore -- is to allow fish to migrate from saltwater to fresh water. Though it's intended to help the ecosystem, it will also improve opportunities for fishing in the pond, Singer said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation stocks the pond each spring with trout and bass, and plans to begin stocking it with alewife, he said.

The project, which officials said was completed April 13, includes a new fishing platform. Anglers aren't allowed to use boats on the pond.

The park, which has a hiking trail around the pond and is across from Twin Ponds Park, is popular with nature lovers, officials said. "It's a very important ecosystem here," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. "It's preserving tremendous open space and a resource that would die."

The project was funded with $150,000 in town funding, a $100,00 DEC grant and $65,000 in grants from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

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