Washington, DC - Rivers and communities will benefit from nearly $700,000 in grants awarded through the national partnership between American Rivers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center. This funding will support six projects throughout California, Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon aimed at restoring fisheries, improving public safety, and reducing flood risks.
“Removing an obsolete dam is an excellent investment that will pay dividends for generations to come,” said Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers. “By getting rid of an outdated dam and restoring a river to health, we not only improve the environment, we can improve public safety and the local economy as well.”
Since 2001, American Rivers and the NOAA Community-based Restoration Program have provided financial and technical assistance to restore rivers, remove unsafe dams, and open up habitat for fish in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, and California.
NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program has funded more than 2,300 projects in 26 states and helped the recovery of threatened and endangered species and improved spawning and nursery areas for commercial and recreational fish. The resulting healthier habitats strengthen and revitalize America's communities by buffering against storms, preventing erosion, protecting vital infrastructure, eliminating public safety hazards, and providing new recreational opportunities. The program provides an average of 30 local jobs per $1 million invested.
Unfortunately, the 2013 federal budget proposes massive cuts for river restoration at NOAA – cutting funding to the Community-based Restoration Program to less than half of what it was last year. American Rivers and its partners are calling on Congress to reject President Obama’s proposed budget cuts and instead fund NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program at last year’s level, $19.9 million. This funding is critical to projects like the ones described below.
American Rivers has selected the following projects to receive restoration grants in 2012:
Project: Hostler Creek Fish Passage Project
Grantee: Hoopa Valley Tribe Fisheries Department
The Hostler Creek Fish Barrier is a falls that was originally constructed to create hydraulic head for an abandoned surface water irrigation withdrawal immediately upstream of the barrier. The Hostler Creek Fish Barrier prohibits passage of juvenile and adult coho and Chinook salmon, as well as steelhead, preventing these fish from migrating upstream to approximately two miles of existing high-quality habitat. Removal of the Hostler Creek Fish Barrier will allow full access for juvenile and adult salmon and steelhead to more than three times the existing habitat in the creek.
Project: White Clay Creek #1 Dam Removal
Grantee: University of Delaware Water Resource Agency
White Clay Creek, a tributary of the Christina River, is a national Wild and Scenic River. The objective of this project is to remove White Clay Creek Dam #1 to reopen 3.5 miles and 42 acres of spawning habitat along the designated Wild and Scenic stretch in New Castle County, Delaware, for the passage of American shad, hickory shad, and herring. Dam removal will also improve public safety, as the dam is in disrepair and in danger of failing.
This will be the first dam removal project for fish passage in the entire state of Delaware. Removal of this dam is the first and most critical step in a 5-year plan to remove an additional six upstream dams and reopen fish passage for 14 miles from tidewater inland to the Piedmont region at the Delaware/Pennsylvania state line.
The White Clay Creek watershed is one of only a few unspoiled and ecologically functioning river systems remaining in the highly congested corridor between Philadelphia and Baltimore. About 100,000 people (with a 16% increase predicted by 2020) live within its boundaries, which span 107 square miles from southeast Pennsylvania to northwest Delaware. White Clay Creek is the first National Wild and Scenic River protected in its entirety.
Project: Off Billington Street Dam Removal
Grantee: Town of Plymouth
Location: Plymouth, MA
Project Funding: $150,000
The Town of Plymouth will remove the Off Billington Street Dam and replace it with an arch bridge (to maintain access to private residences). The project will improve water quality, remove contaminated sediment, and provide unimpeded fish passage for alewife, blueback herring, American eel and resident freshwater species.
This project is part of a larger comprehensive approach to restoring the historic anadromous fish run at Town Brook, which sustained the Pilgrims and is a rich part of our nation’s heritage. This project, in conjunction with the Plymco dam removal upstream, will reestablish river herring access to 269 acres of spawning habitat.
Project: Whittenton Dam Removal
Grantee: Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, Department of Fish and Game
Location: Taunton, MA
Project Funding: $77,000
The Mill River is a tributary to the dam-free Wild and Scenic Taunton River, which flows into Narragansett Bay. National attention focused on the Mill River in 2005 when Whittenton Dam came close to failing during a major flood. Authorities evacuated 2,000 people from the City of Taunton.
The Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) will remove the Whittenton Dam and establish natural, free flowing river conditions in the 0.8-mile long impoundment. DER will also restore native streamside vegetation in the 16-acre former impoundment. The Whittenton Dam Removal project is one of four barriers on the Mill River whose removal is planned or underway. When complete, the project will reconnect four miles of the Mill River with 28 miles of mainstem, tributary and natural pond habitat in the upper Mill River watershed. Taking down the outdated dams will also permanently remove the public safety threat posed by the deteriorating structures.
Project: Coho Creek Fish Passage Project
Grantee: Necanicum Watershed Council
Coho Creek is a tributary of the Neawanna Creek in the Lower Necanicum River watershed. A culvert in the stream beneath Spruce Loop Road is a barrier to migrating fish and prevents them from moving upstream. The project will replace the current 5-foot diameter round culvert with a larger, improved 19-foot span open bottom arch culvert. The project will restore access to roughly a mile of habitat for endangered coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, Pacific lamprey, and winter steelhead.
The culvert, which provides access to Seaside Heights Elementary School, will also enhance educational opportunities at the nearby school, allowing students to learn about stream health, salmon, and other wildlife. Improving the culvert will also safeguard key local infrastructure and public safety.
Project: Roy Creek Fish Passage Project
Grantee: Lower Nehalem Watershed Council
Roy Creek, a tributary of the Nehalem River, has 2.8 miles of high quality spawning and rearing habitat for coho, Chinook, and chum salmon, steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, and two species of lamprey. A culvert under Foss Road and the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad currently blocks upstream fish passage to this critical habitat. The Roy Creek Fish Passage Project will remove this barrier and replace it with a 36-foot bridge. Once this barrier is removed, high quality spawning and rearing habitat will be accessible and overall stream health will be restored. Additionally, Foss Road, which crosses over Roy Creek, is a significant county thoroughfare with residential, recreational and commercial traffic and a conveyance for several utilities. This project will also ensure protection of this key local infrastructure.
Learn more about American Rivers’ restoration work at www.AmericanRivers.org/Dams.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.