American Rivers receives $3.57 million from NOAA to restore Patapsco River

August 20th, 2013

Serena McClain, 202-347-7550
Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

Washington – Maryland’s Patapsco River will soon be healthier for fish and safer for local residents, thanks to a $3.57 million grant awarded by the NOAA Restoration Center to American Rivers. The grant supports the Patapsco River Restoration Project, ensuring the removal of the Bloede Dam and continued long-term monitoring of the Patapsco.

Removing Bloede Dam, the lowermost dam on the river, will open up more than 44 miles of spawning habitat for blueback herring, alewife and American shad, and more than 180 miles of habitat for American eel. Herring and shad are critical to the web of life in the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay, and are a key food source for other recreational and commercial fish species like striped bass.

American Rivers, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park have worked together for more than five years to restore the Patapsco River. Removal of the Union Dam was completed in September 2010, followed by the removal of the Simkins Dam in March 2011.

“Removing one dam can make a major difference in the health of a river and its fisheries. But removing multiple dams, as we’re doing on the Patapsco, is really a game-changer when it comes to improving the overall health of the river and boosting the long-term recovery of migratory fish,” said Serena McClain, director of river restoration at American Rivers. “We are seeing great success on rivers like the Kennebec in Maine and Town Brook in Massachusetts where multiple dams were removed, and we are excited to watch the progress on the Patapsco.”

“Bloede has blocked the Patapsco for over 75 years,” said John Catena, Northeast Regional Supervisor of the Restoration Center. “We’re glad to invest in a project that’s going to reverse course so that migrating fish from the Chesapeake Bay have access to the spawning habitat they need.”

The dam removal will also eliminate a public safety hazard—swimmers have died in the hazardous currents below the dam. 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, and respite from the summer heat. A free-flowing Patapsco improves safety and will eventually enhance opportunities for river recreation, including floating, tubing, and fishing.

“The Maryland Department of Natural Resources whole-heartedly supports the dam’s removal, which reduces the safety hazard long posed by the site and improves the Patapsco’s fishery,” said Secretary Joe Gill, Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “With 13 drownings in Maryland so far this year – one at the dam site – we are again urging boaters, park patrons and anyone planning to spend time on the water to make safety their first priority. Simple actions such as wearing a life preserver can make the difference between life and death.” For more on how to stay safe while enjoying Maryland’s waterways, visit http://news.maryland.gov/dnr/2013/07/30/maryland-sees-alarming-increase-in-drowning-deaths/.

There are hundreds of thousands of dams blocking rivers across the U.S. While many serve useful purposes, others are obsolete, unsafe, or abandoned. These outdated dams are barriers to migrating fish and limit river recreation opportunities like canoeing and fishing. Dams can create drowning hazards for swimmers, anglers and boaters, and deteriorating dams threaten the safety of downstream communities. Removing outdated dams can bring multiple benefits to communities. More than 1,100 dams have been removed across the U.S. over the past 100 years.


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About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.