Harrison County Commission Discusses Dam Removal with U.S. Fish
By Marisa Matyola, Harrison County Reporter
CLARKSBURG - The Harrison County Commission could soon be taking
on the responsibility for three west fork dams, including the
commitments in an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to have the dams removed.
After a vote by the Clarksburg Water Board on Tuesday, July 16,
the utility is considering an offer to transfer operation of the
Highland, Two-Lick and West Milford dams to county commission. The
water board has been looking to get rid of the dams for years due
to liability concerns.
"I'm not as concerned with the liability as I am about the
preservation of what has been there for 100 years and trying to
make it better."
The water board voted 2-1 in March to sign a landowner agreement
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete the dam
removal. The utility and the agency have been working
together for more than a decade on the removal project.
Callie McMunigal, NFHAP coordinator U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service said, "We have spent countless hours on it. We have
invested more than $400,000 in federal tax payer funds to get to
this point, conducting all of the environmental compliance
documents and doing engineering design work to make sure the
project is done right."
The commissioners said they are opposed to removing the dams.
Frank "Chunki" Angotti, Harrison County commissioner said," I
think the people of the area are correct in saying they want the
dams to stay and I am going to support the majority of what they
say. We can always take them out but we can never put them
Commission President Ron Watson said he is hopeful the two
agencies will find a compromise that doesn't involve removing the
"My goal is to compromise is there a way to obtain a balance with
both the ability to protect the species of the mussel species and
also utilize the benefit of the river and the pools of the water
that is behind these dams."
Meanwhile the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is unsure a
compromise can be met.
"While we typically look for every opportunity to partner with
people. We are a little but concerned of the public
perception of wasting tax payer dollars that have already been
spent," said McMunigal.
The county commission has yet to receive a formal intention of
turning the dams over from the Clarksburg Water Board.