New Hampshire, like much of the country, is full of small, no-longer-used dams that chup up streams and rivers into semi-connected pieces. this is bad for a lot of ecological reasons.
Removing old dams can be expensive and often causes other problems, such as release of built-up sediment or pissing off homeowners who prefer being next to a pond rather than a wetland. So it doesn’t happen often. But it happened this month in the North Country, as the group American Rivers notes in this press release:
American Rivers and its partners have completed the removal of a dam on the South Branch Gale River in White Mountain National Forest, to restore habitat for fish and wildlife. It is one of the first dam removal projects in northern New Hampshire. The Gale River is a tributary of the Ammonoosuc River, which flows into the Connecticut River.
The dam, owned by Littleton Water and Light was built as part of the water supply system in the 1950s, no longer served a purpose or provided benefits. Removal eliminated a safety and maintenance burden and improves recreational fishing opportunities and access to high quality aquatic habitat.
Littleton Water and Light managed the project with American Rivers, with support from NH Department of Environmental Services, NH Fish and Game Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Forest Service, and funding from the NH Charitable Foundation’s Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund and The Bingham Trust. Earlier project design phases were funded by NH Charitable Foundation’s Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy. Project engineering design by Stantec Consulting Services, Inc, and construction by C & C Bunnell Excavating LLC.
“This project is the culmination of several years of hard work by our team. Without great partners, projects like this would not be possible. This year’s drought conditions, throughout the State, highlights that we must continue to support projects like this that restore and protect our most valuable resource,” said Bill Thomas with NH Department of Environmental Services.
“The removal of this dam reconnects important habitats for wild brook trout and other aquatic animals in the Gale River watershed,” said Dianne Timmins from NH Fish and Game Department. “We have found brook trout throughout the watershed. Reconnecting those populations is vital for genetic diversity and sustainability.”
More than 1,700 dams have been removed in the U.S. Removing a dam can restore river health and water quality, bring back fish and wildlife, eliminate public safety and flooding hazards, and create new recreation opportunities. American Rivers’ report, Rivers as Economic Engines, details the jobs and other economic and community benefits that come from dam removal and watershed restoration.