NOAA 2002-120
Contact: Susan Buchanan
NOAA News Releases 2002
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American Rivers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Community-based Restoration Program today announced the selection of thirteen projects in eight states intended to restore fish habitat.

More than $300,000 in federal funds will be provided for the implementation of river restoration projects in the Mid-Atlantic, California, and the Northeast during the first year of a three-year partnership. Grant recipients will raise another $400,000 from non-federal entities for these on-the-ground restoration activities.

Over the next three years, the partnership will provide as much as $2.2 million for community-driven dam removals and fish passage projects that restore habitat of anadromous (migratory) fish such as alewife, American shad, salmon and steelhead, all of which spend their adult lives in salt water before returning up rivers to spawn.

“The challenge is to work with more of our communities to restore free-flowing river habitat historically used for fish spawning and rearing through the removal of obsolete and unsafe dams,” said Bill Hogarth, assistant administrator for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries). “We are pleased to be making the announcement of projects selected in the first year of what promises to be a very productive and long-lasting relationship with American Rivers."

Dam removal and other fish passage techniques are designed to restore historic migratory fish runs. While dams can provide valuable services, they often drown valuable habitat under reservoirs, block the annual migrations of fish, and can create downstream conditions inhospitable for fish and wildlife. Removing some dams can reverse these impacts and restore the natural integrity of rivers. When dam removal is not an option, fish passage devices, such as fishways and nature-like bypass channels, may be constructed to enable fish to swim over or around dams and return to their historic upstream habitat.

“The funded projects represent a terrific start to a partnership we feel will be extremely successful in restoring fish habitat,” said Elizabeth Maclin, director of American Rivers dams program. “American Rivers is excited to see more communities across the country realizing the benefits of restored rivers through the removal of dams that no longer make sense and the construction of fish passage projects.”

Mid-Atlantic states will receive awards ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 for six approved projects.

In Pennsylvania, the removal of Detter’s Mill Dam in November, an abandoned dam in York County, will open 10 stream-miles of unrestricted fish passage on Conewago Creek. In Delaware County, two stream-miles of fish habitat along Ridley Creek in Delaware County, Pa., will be restored in November or December. Additionally, the removal of Irving Mill Dam will facilitate the removal of further blockages upstream in the Ridley Creek system watershed. In Carlisle, the Heishman’s Mill Fish Passage Project on Conodoguinet Creek represents an innovative approach to fish passage with the construction of a nature-like fishway providing migratory fish with approximately six stream-miles of spawning habitat.

In Maryland, approximately 20 stream-miles will be available to migratory fish following the removal of the Octoraro Creek Rubble Dam located in Cecil County.

In New Jersey, breaching the Harry Pursel Dam, an earthen dam in severe disrepair, will open the entire 10-mile reach of the Lopatcong Creek system in Phillipsburg.

Finally, funds will be provided to conduct dam removal research for the Woolen Mills Dam on the Rivanna River in Charlottesville, Va., benefitting American shad, hickory shad, blueback herring, alewife herring and American eel.

In California, the partnership approved four projects ranging from $6,000 to $49,000. The removal of a dam on the Los Trancos Creek in Palo Alto will result in more than 2.1 stream-miles of spawning and rearing habitat added for steelhead trout. Juvenile steelhead entrainment will be eliminated and high quality spawning and rearing habitat will be accessible following the removal of a water diversion structure at the York Creek Dam in St. Helena.

In Santa Cruz, the removal of three fish-passage barriers will improve fish access to approximately 2 stream-miles along Mountain Charlie Creek. Funding will also be provided for a removal study of a drop structure currently blocking fish passage along lower Marsh Creek in Contra Costa County, that will benefit steelhead trout, coho salmon, and chinook salmon.

In the Northeast, three projects funded at $25,000 each will benefit migratory fish species such as alewife herring, blueback herring, American shad and American eel. A multi-organizational effort to remove the Billington Street Dam on the Town Brook in Plymouth, Mass., will provide migratory fish unrestricted access to spawning habitat in Billington Sea. A dedication ceremony is planned for Sept. 18.

Construction of a nature-like fishway at Duffield Dam in Guilford, Conn., in October, will eventually enable alewife to access to more than 13 acres of spawning and rearing habitat at Lower Guilford Lake.

The Ashuelot River Engineering Study will investigate the removal of the Homestead Dam in Swanzy, N.H., which could lead to the restoration 27 stream-miles for fish migration.

The Community-based Restoration Program, which jointly determines which projects to fund with American Rivers, was started in 1996 to provide a starting point for citizens to address habitat concerns in their own back yards. The program works by providing seed money and technical assistance, which is leveraged at the national and local levels to promote significant, locally-driven on-the-ground restoration. For more information go to:

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Founded in 1973, American Rivers is dedicated to protecting and restoring healthy natural rivers and the variety of life they sustain, for the benefit of people, fish, and wildlife.