Dam Removals Begin on the West Fork
First run-of-river dam removals in West Virginia will benefit
fish, wildlife and the community
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Release
17 March 2016
CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA — Next week, heavy machinery will roll
down to the West Fork River and begin the first run-of-river dam
removals in West Virginia, returning the waterway to free-flowing
conditions not seen in nearly a century, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service announced today.
Piece by piece, the West Milford, Highland and Two Lick dams will
be pulled from the West Fork River over three months, reconnecting
nearly 40 miles of river for native fish and other wildlife. The
project will eliminate the safety hazards created by the dams
while also improving water quality, river habitat, and
recreational opportunities on the river.
The Clarksburg Water Board will continue to draw water from the
pool above Hartland Dam, which will remain in place to provide
clean, safe drinking water to local residents.
Demolition will begin with West Milford Dam, then Two Lick Dam and
conclude with Highland Dam. Each dam removal is expected to take
about 3 weeks. As work begins on each dam, water levels in the
upstream pool will drop a few feet each day for several days.
During this time, residents should use caution when on the river
and avoid the construction area around each dam.
As the water levels in the pools behind the dams drop, biologists
will rescue stranded mussels along the river banks and the West
Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Rehabilitation
Environmental Action Plan (REAP) program and volunteers will help
remove exposed trash and large debris. The concrete from the dams
will be crushed into gravel that will be used to create and
enhance public access sites for fishing and boating and to improve
recreational trails in Harrison County.
“The dam removals and restoration work will enhance the safety,
cleanliness, and beauty of the West Fork River in Harrison
County,” said John Schmidt, the Service’s West Virginia Field
Free-flowing waters will encourage a more diverse and resilient
river environment that flushes nutrients, pollutants and sediment,
ultimately supporting thriving fish and freshwater mussel
populations and enhanced fishing for smallmouth bass and
Landowners interested in assistance with streambank seeding,
native vegetation plantings, or fencing installations for
livestock should call the USFWS at 304-636-6586.