Patapsco River, MD


American Rivers is working with the Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to remove several dams on the beautiful Patapsco River.  Nestled largely within the Patapsco Valley State Park, the Patapsco River flows for almost 35 miles through Sykesville, Ellicott City, Elkridge and other Maryland towns before it reaches Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. The Patapsco is one of the Baltimore area’s hidden jewels, providing the people of Maryland with a favorite fishing hole, trails to wander, segments to canoe and kayak with class I and II rapids, and respite from the summer heat.

Why remove dams on the Patapsco? 

  • Habitat restoration – opened 42 main stem miles; 374 tributary miles for American eel by dam removal
  • Restoration of an historic fishery – target species include American eel, alewife, blueback herring, American shad
  • Removal of aging infrastructure/safety hazards
  • Improve recreational opportunities for Patapsco Valley State Park users
  • Learning opportunity for Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic

 View this interactive timeline of the Patapsco River restoration:

What’s been done so far?

  • American Rivers was awarded $4 million by NOAA through their economic stimulus funding for the removal of the Union and Simkins dams. The Natural Resource Conservation Service has also contributed to the removal of Simkins Dam.
  • Removal of the Union Dam was completed in September 2010. American Rivers continues to monitor the site to ensure the new stream maintains its ecological integrity. 
  • Removal of the Simkins Dam was completed in March 2011. American Rivers and its partners continue to monitor the restoration of the site and document the recovery and its changes. View an interactive timeline of the restoration below.
  • Maryland DNR and its partners are conducting a study of the Bloede Dam to assess what restoring this segment of the Patapsco would entail.

Stay informed:

For more information, contact Serena McClain with American Rivers at 202-347-7550.