Dam Removal in West Fairlee, VT

Since Ibex is a member of The Conservation Alliance, we get notified whenever there’s a project happening around us that the organization has helped fund. One such project is a dam removal going on right now on the Ompompanoosuc River in West Fairlee, VT, just a few miles from our headquarters. Last week saw the majority of the removal action, and we were there.

BEFORE

 

AFTER

 

How it all went down
Two years ago, Ron Rhodes, River Steward from the Connecticut River Conservancy, was contacted by the state of Vermont regarding the dam. It’s small, taking up about a quarter of an acre on private property, but after a state assessment, a suggestion came about to remove it as it hasn’t been operational since 1994. Ron contacted the landowner, talked with the community members, neighbors and other interested folks, got the proper permitting, and worked with engineers. For context, most dam removal projects take two to three years, so this has been right on par.

How removing this dam is a good thing
Water depths go back to normal. With a dam in the way, sediment gets trapped, making water depths unequal. We showed up last Thursday and saw a two- to three-foot difference on the side of the river from where the water had been just the day before.

Flood elevation levels are lowered. Thanks to the more natural, lowered water depth, flood levels have higher to go to become dangerous. Sure, we’re talking a small river, but to surrounding land owners, this matters.

Fish have more access. Removing the dam opens up 17 miles of river, along with many opportunities for fish to have access to colder waters, which offers a better environment for spawning.

How others benefit
Construction materials are not cheap. So the fact that all the concrete taken out from this dam will be recycled and used in other road projects is a huge benefit. Ron also told us he and the Conservancy are committed to hiring local engineers and contractors, finding it’s a win-win working with folks who have knowledge of each area.

Watch our video to get the full effect:

We’re thankful The Conservation Alliance helped fund a project benefitting one of our neighboring towns here in Vermont. Being able to witness an example of the Alliance’s vision to restore wild places feels really good to us.

For more information on the Connecticut River Conservancy, visit www.ctriver.org. See more about The Conservation Alliance at www.conservationalliance.com.