West Fork River Dam Removal Making Progress

28 May 2015
By Kathryn Ghion, General Assignment Reporter

In March, the Clarksburg Water Board voted to remove and do work on four dams along the West Fork River. That project is progressing and Tuesday the Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in Clarksburg to check on what's been done.

“I had read quite a bit about the project, but it's always best to see it first hand,” said Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber. “So it was really nice to be able to come down and see the structure itself.”

The project, which involves the West Milford, Highland, Two Lick and Hartland Dams sparked concern from the community. As the work comes closer to beginning, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is doing it's best to ensure the public the removal is beneficial.

“What I do think is important is that we're here working with the town, as a partner, helping understand the information, and the facts, and the science behind it, and the benefits,” said Weber.

The focus of the visit was the Hartland Dam, which won't be removed, because it's needed for the water supply in Clarksburg.

“We were planning to put in just a fish structure, to move fish up and down, but since the Water Trail idea came to being we're considering how we can pass boats as well,” said Field Supervisor John Schmidt.

The necessary funds have been raised to being the project. Now the removal is waiting on permits, which should be secured by the end of summer. Once the removal is completed, it will benefit the wildlife population in the area.

“Having more riffles and pools will create more fish habitats for the fish that are supposed to be abundant here,” said Schmidt.

“It helps with water quality, and so it's good. It's a win-win for the communities as well as um the wildlife,” said Weber.

Once all of the permits have been secured the actual removal process will begin with the West Milford Dam upstream.