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The Paulins Kill River, New Jersey’s third largest tributary to the Delaware River, recently marked a significant milestone in its journey to restoration. On November 24, a crucial step was taken with the notching of the Paulina Dam, signaling a pivotal moment in the effort to return the river to its natural state. This initiative, led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and supported by a collaborative effort among several organizations, aims to restore the Paulins Kill River ecosystem, improve water quality, and allow native aquatic species to migrate freely.

[caption id="attachment_13988" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] November 24, 2023, the first notch is made in the Paulina Dam. By TNC photographer David Pexton.[/caption]

Understanding the Project

[caption id="attachment_13992" align="alignleft" width="431"] Photo by David Pexton of TNC.[/caption]

Located in Blairstown Township, Warren County, the Paulina Dam has posed challenges to both the river's health and surrounding communities. It was originally constructed 128 years ago to produce hydropower, but has not functioned in that capacity for more than 50 years. Delaware River tributaries do not have the necessary size or flow to meet even a fraction of modern energy needs.

The 13-foot-high, 207-foot-long timber crib, rock-filled structure is classified as a Class II, Significant Hazard Dam due to its proximity to the Township of Blairstown. Its removal or rehabilitation became necessary to mitigate risks to life and property. Additionally, the dam has impeded fish passage along the Paulins Kill River, impacting the habitat for native brook trout and migratory species.

The dam removal and subsequent bank stabilization aims to reconnect over 7.6 miles of mainstream and tributary habitat along the river, and improve aquatic and terrestrial connectivity, improve surface water quality, enhance recreation and public safety, and eliminate the risk of a potential unplanned breach. The removal of the dam will also reconnect upstream and downstream populations of the endangered dwarf wedge and triangle floater mussels while increasing river ecology and public recreation.

Spearheaded by TNC in partnership with Blairstown Township, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Natural Resource Restoration and Division of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Princeton Hydro, and Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture, the project received funding through grants to support the removal of the Paulina Dam. The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) awarded a grant to TNC to fund a substantial portion of the removal through the Paulins Kill and Pequest Watershed Natural Resource Restoration Grant Program.

[caption id="attachment_13996" align="alignright" width="1108"] On November 27, 2023, members from the indie pop band Nation of Language visited the site to witness the dam removal team's progress.[/caption]

Notching and Deconstruction

TNC recently completed preliminary notching of the 128-year-old Paulina Dam. From November 24 through December 1, contractors from the Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture worked in the river using heavy equipment to successfully remove a 40-foot long, six-foot high section of the structure, enabling a controlled release of the water impounded behind it.

Click below to watch as the first notch is made: [embed]https://youtu.be/XN1z2VlLeZI[/embed]

Notching is performed to dewater gradually, preventing large amounts of sediment from flowing downstream all at once and potentially harming habitat. The gradual deconstruction ensures the river's stability and minimizes environmental disruption. The project team made subsequent reductions of the dam's height by one foot each day, totaling a six-foot reduction. Complete removal of the dam is slated for July through September of 2024.

[gallery link="none" size="medium" ids="13997,13991,13989"]

Reporters from WFMZ 69 News visited the dam removal site to witness the first notch and talk with State Director of TNC in New Jersey Dr. Barbara Brummer, Blairstown Mayor Rob Moorhead, Director of Freshwater Programs at TNC in New Jersey Beth Styler Barry.

“Rivers remember,” said Beth Styler Barry, Director of Freshwater Programs at The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey. “The instant the first notch was made we could already see the Paulins Kill transforming into a more natural shape. Now with six vertical feet taken out, the water that has been stagnant for more than a century is flowing, cooling and aerating, and the natural floodplains are once again exposed and ready to revegetate.”

Click below to watch the full interview:

 

Princeton Hydro, contracted by TNC to provide site investigation, engineering design, permitting, and construction oversight services for the dam removal, has been working closely with Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture to complete the deconstruction process.

"The first day of dam demolition is always exciting; seeing the river flowing through the breached Paulina Dam after the first notch was very rewarding," said Paulo Rodriguez Heyman, Managing Member of the Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture, the team leading the construction for the project. "Removing a high-hazard dam is challenging and requires the unique expertise of working in a dynamic river system. We are honored to be part of this collaborative team."


Embracing the Future

The removal of the Paulina Dam stands as one integral facet of a larger restoration plan initiated in 2013, envisioning the removal of multiple dams along the Paulins Kill River. In removing the Paulina Dam, the downstream-most dam on the Paulins Kill, TNC continues to build upon previous watershed-wide restoration activities that includes removing four dams: the Columbia Lake Main and Remnant Dams (2019), the County Line Dam (2021), and now the Paulina Dam.

This multi-pronged effort includes wetland restoration, land protection, and floodplain reforestation—with more than 60,000 trees planted to date throughout 130 acres of floodplain. TNC has executed a 10-year “measures and monitoring” program, which began in 2016, to track conservation successes. This comprehensive effort brings hope for a rejuvenated and thriving river environment.

“The removal of Paulina Dam is not just about dismantling a structure and removing a safety hazard, but paving the way for a renewed riverine landscape, where the flow of life returns to its natural course,” said Geoffrey M. Goll, PE, President of Princeton Hydro and Engineer-of-Record for the Paulina Dam removal project. “As a mission driven firm, we seek out projects that will have a positive ecological impact. We are proud to share that three of the dam removals that we designed on the Paulins Kill - Paulina Dam, Columbia Lake Dam, and County Line Dam - will reconnect 45 miles of mainstem and tributaries for targeted migratory fish species like American shad, American eel, and sea lamprey.”

Resident fish and other aquatic organisms including mussels and trout will also benefit from habitat and water quality improvements, as will birds, pollinators and land-based animals that rely on the river for survival. [caption id="attachment_14026" align="aligncenter" width="697"] Left to Right: Geoffrey M. Goll, PE of Princeton Hydro; Beth Styler Barry of TNC; and Paulo Rodriguez Heyman of Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture.[/caption]  

The Paulina Dam Removal will be the final step in the TNC-led restoration of the lands and waters of the Paulins Kill.

[embed]https://youtu.be/jo13xTChKLE[/embed]

As the restoration journey continues, it stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, environmental stewardship, and the dedication of communities and organizations striving to preserve and restore our natural landscapes.

Stay tuned for further updates on the incredible transformation of the Paulins Kill River!

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Princeton Hydro President and Founding Principal Geoffrey M. Goll, P.E. was recently featured on the Native Plants, Healthy Planet Podcast, which is ranked as a Top 20 Nature Apple podcast with 7k+ listeners per month.

Hosts Fran Chismar and Tom Knezick, owners of Pinelands Nursery, invited Geoff on the show to discuss all things dam removal. For Episode 187 titled "The Dam Show" Geoff shared the history of dams and dam removal, the many benefits of removing dams, the challenges around implementing dam removal, recent stories of river restoration success, and helpful resources for anyone looking to learn more.

Click below to listen to the full podcast:  

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen the removal of 84 dams to date. The firm was formed in 1998 with the specific mission of providing integrated ecological and engineering consulting services. Offering expertise in natural resource management, water resources engineering, geotechnical design and investigation, and regulatory compliance, their staff provide a full suite of environmental services throughout the Northeast for the public and private sectors. Princeton Hydro is committed to improving our ecosystems, quality of life, and communities for the better.

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The removal of Beatty's Mill Dam stands as a pivotal moment in the conservation efforts along the Musconetcong River. This critical initiative, spearheaded by the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA), Washington Township, and the Town of Hackettstown in collaboration with Princeton Hydro and RiverLogic Solutions, marks a significant stride towards rejuvenating the river's natural ecosystem and addressing long-standing concerns regarding flood mitigation and habitat preservation.

[caption id="attachment_13929" align="aligncenter" width="763"] Photo taken November 12, 2023.[/caption]

History of the Beatty’s Mill Dam

Beatty's Mill Dam straddles the border between Warren and Morris Counties in Hackettstown and Washington Township, New Jersey.  It is a 6-foot-high stone masonry, concrete, and earth embankment dam that was built in the 18th century and has been non-functional for decades.

[caption id="attachment_13968" align="alignright" width="419"] Photo of Beatty's Mill Dam (pre-removal) taken from upstream with the East Avenue bridge in the background[/caption]

Beatty’s Mill Dam is a low-head dam, which means it was not built to protect communities from flooding and can make flooding worse in some cases. Hackettstown and Washington Township are also more susceptible to flooding and erosion due to the high percentage of impervious surfaces, like roads and parking lots, which cause higher flows of stormwater runoff.

A dam safety report from 1981 shows that the dam had been breached on the eastern end. The breach caused a hairpin turn where the river is diverted sharply to the east then back to the west before flowing under the East Avenue bridge. Over time, this created erosive conditions at the upstream side of the bridge and roadbed, threatening the integrity of the infrastructure. Additionally, extensive alteration of the floodplain occurred upstream of the dam, including an elevated earthen berm along the left bank, and general land disturbance in both upland and wetlands.

The removal of the dam not only addresses the structural concerns but also holds the promise of extensive environmental improvements. By eradicating barriers to the Musconetcong River's natural flow, restoring the floodplain, and implementing strategies to curb stormwater runoff, this initiative aims to mitigate flooding, promote water quality, and foster a thriving habitat for aquatic organisms including indigenous species like the Eastern Brook Trout and American Eel.


Removing the Dam

With funding from the Highlands Council, Princeton Hydro was contracted in 2019 by Washington Township to complete a water quality assessment, hydrologic and hydraulic analysis, and functional value stream assessment of reaches of the Musconetcong River that encompassed the Beatty’s Mill site (and the downstream Newburgh Dam site). Following the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council guidance, Princeton Hydro assessed and rated the river reaches on five functional values: channel integrity, habitat, water quality, temperature moderation, and public use. The Beatty’s Mill Dam, floodplain encroachment, narrow riparian buffers, and non-native riparian vegetation were the primary sources of impact to the functional values.

Subsequently, Princeton Hydro was contracted by MWA to complete a site investigation, wetland delineation, topographic survey, and preliminary (60%) engineering design for dam removal. Preliminary plans were reviewed by Washington Township and the Town of Hackettstown. In 2023, Princeton Hydro completed the final engineering design, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, and permitting for the removal of Beatty’s Mill Dam and restoration of the floodplain and provided engineering oversight during construction.

[gallery link="none" columns="2" ids="13938,13939"]  

The removal of Beatty’s Mill Dam was officially completed the week of November 13, 2023!

Princeton Hydro assisted in the removal and restoration, providing engineering plans and project management support. With the dam removed, 2.5 acres of flood plain have been restored; 0.15 mile of stream bank have been stabilized; 0.15 mile of stream bed has been rehabilitated; and total suspended solids in the water have been reduced by 20%.

Michael Allers, Princeton Hydro Restoration Ecologist and licensed FAA-Certified Commercial Drone Pilot, captured these aerial images of the completed project site:

[gallery link="none" columns="4" ids="13934,13933,13932,13931"]

It is projected that there will be significant improvement to the five aforementioned functional values, increased fish passage, enhanced hydraulic conditions at the East Avenue bridge as well as improvements to the river’s pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen levels.

Removing the dam also supports conformance with the Highlands Regional Master Plan, which is intended to protect, preserve, and enhance precious water resources within the Highlands Region. The project work also includes the restoration of the damaged floodplain, stream banks, and stream bed by planting trees, building up the banks with rocks, and allowing the river to return to its natural flowing channel.


Looking Ahead

This project’s significance extends beyond the immediate environmental impact. Funding from sources like the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation under the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund and New Jersey’s Highlands Council, along with corporate contributions, underscores its potential to serve as a model for similar restoration projects across the Delaware River Watershed. Such initiatives not only enhance aquatic habitats but also bolster community resilience against flooding and elevate public awareness regarding watershed conservation.

The vision for this restoration effort reflects a collective commitment to revitalize river ecosystems, not just for the immediate region but as part of a broader strategy for conservation. The Beatty's Mill Dam marks the MWA's sixth dam removed on the Musconetcong River since 2008, but it is far from the last. This project aims to set a precedent for sustainable river management and ecosystem preservation.

The removal of Beatty's Mill Dam represents a milestone in the ongoing efforts to restore the Musconetcong River's ecological balance and underscores the collaborative spirit between MWA, local municipalities, various stakeholders, and Princeton Hydro. It serves as a testament to the potential of concerted conservation endeavors to restore the vitality of our waterways and safeguard the natural heritage for generations to come.


The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of the Musconetcong River and its watershed, including its natural and cultural resources. Members of the organization are part of a network of individuals, families, and companies that care about the Musconetcong River and its watershed, and are dedicated to improving the watershed resources through public education and awareness programs, river water quality monitoring, promotion of sustainable land management practices, and community involvement. Click here to learn more.

Princeton Hydro has been working with MWA in the areas of river restoration, dam removal, and engineering consulting since 2003. Click here to read our Client Spotlight blog featuring MWA’s Executive Director Cindy Joerger and Communications Coordinator Karen Doerfer.

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An extraordinary effort is underway in the Hudson River Valley—the removal of the Maiden Lane Dam. The towering 25-foot concrete structure, originally built for aesthetic purposes on a tributary to the Hudson River, has been impairing aquatic life and causing an array of negative environmental impacts since its construction in the early 1900s. Now, it is the focus of a project that promises to restore vital aquatic habitats.

Join us as we take a deeper look at the Maiden Lane Dam Removal project, an initiative that has been in the planning phase for nearly five years.


Maiden Lane Dam

Located in the Town of Cortlandt on Furnace Brook, a tributary of the Hudson River, the Maiden Lane Dam was originally built by the former owners of McAndrews Estate. Unlike many dams throughout the country constructed with the primary goals of flood control, hydroelectric power, agricultural irrigation, or navigation of boats, the Maiden Lane Dam was built for aesthetic purposes. Yet the dam's impact extended well beyond its appearance.

The Maiden Lane Dam is the very first dam that fish and aquatic species encounter on Furnance Brook while attempting to travel up the Hudson River to reach foraging habitats and ancestral spawning grounds. The antiquated, unused dam poses a variety of risks to the wildlife restricted by the dam, people who live and recreate near the dam, and the environment surrounding the dam.


The Dam Removal Project Takes Shape

McAndrews Estate, along with the dam, was abandoned in the 1960s, and subsequently, Westchester County Parks assumed control of it. Shortly afterwards, the property was condemned.

In 2021, Princeton Hydro secured a contract with Westchester County to develop and finalize the dam removal engineering plans, secure permitting, and facilitate construction bid procurement. The project work also entailed collecting and analyzing sediment samples, conducting geomorphic assessments, and completing an in-depth hydraulic and hydrologic analysis focusing on potential flooding impacts. The collaboration with key stakeholders, including NYSDEC, Westchester County, and the Town of Cortlandt, ensured the feasibility of this ambitious dam removal endeavor.

The collaboration and careful planning set the stage for the much-anticipated removal of the Maiden Lane Dam.


A Hopeful Future for Hudson River Valley

The significance of this project cannot be overstated. Beyond its historical and ecological significance, the Maiden Lane Dam removal will reconnect approximately 1.5 miles of habitat for fish and other aquatic species. It represents a promising chapter in the ongoing efforts to revitalize Hudson River Valley streams and conserve the region's diverse fish and wildlife.

As we eagerly await the completion of the Maiden Lane Dam removal, the vision of restored aquatic habitats and thriving ecosystems shines brightly on the horizon. The journey of the Maiden Lane Dam Removal project is a testament to dedication, collaboration, and the unwavering commitment to the preservation of our natural environment.


Keep the Dam Removal Conversations Flowing

Princeton Hydro team members Jake Dittes, PE and Duncan Simpson, PWS presented on Hudson Valley Dam removal during the 2023 National Stream Restoration Conference, hosted by the Resource Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of America's precious waterways. The event, themed "Stream Restoration 2023: Finding Common Ground,” served as an inspiring backdrop for the broader narrative of stream restoration, showcasing the importance of projects like the Maiden Lane Dam removal in preserving our natural treasures.

The Maiden Lane Dam Removal is part of a larger effort, led by Riverkeeper, to restore migratory fish pathways and fisheries in the Hudson River Watershed.

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and/or overseen the removal of 80+ small and large dams in the Northeast. To learn more about fish passage and dam removal efforts in the Hudson River Valley, click here. To learn more about our engineering services, click here.

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In a momentous occasion for environmental conservation, a dam removal on Bushkill Creek is underway, building upon a new era for this cherished limestone stream.

This dam removal marks another important milestone in restoring Bushkill Creek back to its natural, free-flowing state; connecting migratory fish species like alewife and American shad with upstream spawning grounds; and helping to revitalize ecologically-beneficial freshwater mussels colonies and populations of trout and other residential fish species.


Freeing Bushkill Creek One Dam at a Time

Bushkill Creek begins at the foot of Blue Mountain in Bushkill Township, Pennsylvania and flows 22 miles before its confluence with the Delaware River. The limestone stream flows through agricultural and suburban areas, as well as Easton, and supports a large wild brown trout population. It is designated as a “high quality, cold-water fishery” and treasured by anglers and the surrounding community as an important resource in an urban environment.

In 2022, Wildlands Conservancy contracted Princeton Hydro to design, permit, and oversee construction for the removal of four dams along Bushkill Creek. The Crayola Dam, also called Dam #4, was the first of the four dam removal projects to be completed.

The map below shows the location of the next three Bushkill Creek dams being removed:

[caption id="attachment_13253" align="aligncenter" width="571"] Created by Wildlands Conservancy, Contributed by Kurt Bresswein of The Star Ledger[/caption]  

The demolition and removal of Dam #1 commenced on July 7, 2023 and is scheduled for completion in August. The site labeled as Dam #3 is scheduled for demolition and removal later this year. And, the site labeled as Dam #2, is scheduled for removal in the summer of 2024.

Removing nonfunctional, outdated dams from the Bushkill and allowing the creek to return to a natural, free-flowing state will have myriad ecological benefits.


Removing the Bushkill’s First Barrier

Dam #1, the first barrier on the Bushkill, is located directly upstream from the Creek’s confluence with the Delaware River. Previous to this removal process, Dam #1 was the upstream limit for migratory fish like alewife, striped bass, and shad.

Dam #1 is owned by Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. It spans an impressive length of 90 feet, width of 14 feet, and stands 4-feet high. Having been constructed in 1793, the dam had fallen into a state of disrepair, with crumbling concrete impacting the integrity of the streambank retaining wall. Consequently, the dam and associated impoundment have had detrimental effects on the creek's ecosystem, obstructing fish passage, exacerbating local flooding, and degrading water quality. Professors and students of the College have tried for years to effectuate Bushkill Creek dam removals to improve the aquatic environment.

[caption id="attachment_13174" align="aligncenter" width="694"] View of the Bushkill Dam #1, located in the City of Easton, before the construction crew takes the first notch.[/caption]   [gallery link="none" columns="2" ids="13188,13187"]

By removing the dam, the project team aims to improve water quality, restore the creek back to its natural flowing state, reconnect river habitats that benefit fish and wildlife, and significantly increase biodiversity for the surrounding watershed. The project work also includes stabilizing the streambank, expanding riparian buffers, planting native trees and shrubs to filter runoff, and installing in-stream structures to restore fish habitat, which has numerous and far-reaching ecological benefits. It is important to note that the project's scope involves minimal disturbance, impacting less than one acre of land surrounding the dam.

Watch as the construction team makes the first notch in Dam #1: [embed]https://youtu.be/73Jrssb75pE[/embed] The removal of this specific dam holds profound promise, heralding a transformative era for the ecological well-being of Bushkill Creek. Signs of improvement were immediately visible as the construction team worked to notch out Dam #1: [gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="13177,13171"]   [caption id="attachment_13180" align="aligncenter" width="692"] This photo taken on July 12, 2023 (just 5 days after the first notch) shows great progress being made on the Bushkill Dam removal effort.[/caption] [gallery link="none" columns="2" ids="13265,13264"]

Collaborative Efforts Yield Success

The continued effort to restore Bushkill Creek with the removal of Barrier #1, which has been 10-years in the making, serves as a testament to the unwavering dedication displayed by a diverse array of 20+ stakeholders, including Delaware River Basin Commission, Lafayette College, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Princeton Hydro.

According to the Wildlands Conservancy, the initial natural resource damage assessment funding came following a fly ash spill from the Martins Creek Power Plant in 2005. The settlement, which was reached in 2016, totaled $1.3 million, with $902,150 going to the Delaware River Basin Commission for dam removal projects and $50,000 going to the Commission to manage mussel restoration. Additional funding for the overall project came from NFWF's Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund ($2,049,200), and Northampton County's Livable Landscapes program ($100,000).


Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen the reconstruction, repair, and removal of 80+ small and large dams in the Northeast. For over a decade, Princeton Hydro has partnered with Wildlands Conservancy to remove dams in the Lehigh River Valley. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, click here. To learn more about Wildlands Conservancy, click here.

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Welcome to the latest edition of our Client Spotlight series, which provides an inside look at our collaboration, teamwork, and accomplishments with one of our client partners.

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, known commonly as CU Maurice River, a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the Maurice River Watershed’s natural integrity and cultural heritage.

The Maurice River, located in south-central New Jersey, was designated a National Wild and Scenic River by Congress in 1993. It draws from a drainage area of 385 square miles and meanders south for 50 miles, through Southern New Jersey primarily in Cumberland County. Headwaters are in parts of Gloucester, Salem, and Atlantic Counties, emptying into the main stem of the Maurice; from there it flows into Delaware Bay. The major tributaries of the river are Scotland Run, Muddy Run, Menantico Creek, Muskee Creek, and the Manumuskin River. There are about 20 small lakes in the watershed, the largest of which is Union Lake at 950 acres.

As South Jersey’s leading watershed organization, CU Maurice River engages in fieldwork, advocacy, research, and education initiatives generating and contributing to a greater understanding of the local environment and wildlife.

For this Client Spotlight, we spoke with CU Maurice River Executive Director Karla Rossini via Zoom:

Q. Tell us a little about CU Maurice River and what makes it unique?

A:

[embed]https://youtu.be/iahd-_hbgPU[/embed]  

"CU Maurice River is a very grassroots, very local organization. One of our core strengths is community involvement. In everything we do, we try to invite the largest section of community that we possibly can. Whether that’s to participate in educational opportunities or participate in volunteerism or become an advocate of our local resources, we really make it our goal to develop and foster stewardship within the community."


Q. What are some exciting things your organization is working on right now?

A:

"We're very excited about the work we're doing with the WheatonArts & Cultural Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to engage artists and audiences in an evolving exploration of creativity.

Over the years, CU Maurice River has worked with WheatonArts to design and implement various best management practices throughout its 45-acre campus. We’ve installed vernal pools, purple martin gourds, a blue bird trail, a nature trail, and a massive rain garden. The projects support water resources on site and beyond, revitalize and preserve natural habitats, and provide an invaluable community resource for promoting eco-friendly land management, stewardship, and nature exploration.

WheatonArts and CU Maurice River also launched a four-week nature journaling course, which will take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from August 3 to August 25 (2023). Kids get to spend time outdoors while growing their science knowledge, appreciation for nature, and artistic ability. Nature journaling is a way to creatively connect and build a deep, lasting relationship with the natural world.

The CU Maurice River team does the scientific teachings, and the WheatonArts team does the art teachings. So for example, CU Maurice River will teach about the anatomy of a tree, how a tree functions, why an Oak tree produces acorns, and the ecosystem services a tree provides. And, WheatonArts teaches the kids how to draw and paint a tree, how to make an acorn look round, and how to get the shades of the brown tree trunk just right.

Another interesting aspect of the program is that it also highlights the history of communication in nature exploration. Darwin had to draw his pictures to describe his findings. Mary Treat had to draw her discoveries. Audubon had to illustrate his birds. And, let’s face it, most of the best ID books aren’t photo books, they’re illustrated books. So, this program focuses on the importance of art in science."


Q. Can you talk a little about the CU Maurice and Princeton Hydro partnership: 

A:

"The first time I encountered Princeton Hydro was at a Musconetcong River event where Princeton Hydro was presenting on dam removal and the restoration of trout habitat on the Musconetcong. Then, later that year, at the Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum, I met Dana Patterson (Princeton Hydro's Director of Marketing and Communications). We got to talking about a variety of different projects we could explore together, and it's been a really great partnership ever since. I’m pretty sure I've given Dana and Christiana Pollock (Princeton Hydro's Director of Restoration and Resilience) some wacky ideas to figure out, but Princeton Hydro has always been very supportive AND realistic.

Since then, we’ve contracted with Princeton Hydro to do a feasibility study on the Centerton Dam removal. We’re also working with Princeton Hydro to do an ArcGIS StoryMap of the Paddle Trails in the Maurice River Watershed. And, we've got some other exciting things in the works that I'm not at liberty to discuss publicly today, but stay tuned for more great things as a result of CU Maurice River's collaboration with the Princeton Hydro team.

Princeton Hydro has really provided a lot of support and guidance, and I am eternally grateful for their partnership."


Q. How can people get involved in and help support the important work CU Maurice River is doing?

A:

[embed]https://youtu.be/9WY0D21EFeo[/embed]

For more CU Maurice River volunteer opportunities and upcoming events, click here.


Q. Do you have anything else you'd like to share with our blog readers about CU Maurice River or yourself?

A:

[embed]https://youtu.be/Kb1l8Qfxe4c[/embed]

A big thanks to Karla and CU Maurice River for taking part in our Client Spotlight Series!

To learn more about CU Maurice River, we invite you to visit their website and subscribe to their newsletter.

Click below to check out the previous edition of our Client Spotlight Series featuring George Jackman, PhD, Senior Habitat Restoration Manager for Riverkeeper:

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The Horseshoe Mill Dam, built in 1827, served as the first barrier to fish passage on the Weweantic River in Wareham, Massachusetts. For over 150 years, migratory fish were unable to reach their breeding grounds upstream due to this structure. However, thanks to the efforts of the Buzzards Bay Coalition and its project partners, the dam was successfully removed between December 2019 and February 2021. As early as April 2021, migratory fish were seen swimming unimpeded from Buzzards Bay to lay their eggs in freshwater upstream. A true success story!

This blog explores the Horseshoe Mill Dam removal project and celebrates the significant milestone in the recovery of fish populations and the restoration of ecological processes in the Weweantic River.


A Brief History

The Weweantic River winds its way through the picturesque landscapes of southeastern Massachusetts, spanning a length of 17.0 miles. This land is the traditional territory of the Wampanoag/Wôpanâak tribes. Derived from the Wampanoag language, Weweantic means "crooked" or "wandering stream."

Originating from the wetlands in Carver, the river flows in a southerly direction meandering through swampy birch and maple forests in Middleborough and Rochester. Eventually, it empties into a Buzzards Bay estuary near the mouth of the Sippican River in Wareham. The river's watershed covers approximately 18,000 acres, with numerous cranberry bogs situated in its upper sections.

Although the Weweantic River historically teemed with fish, the presence of the Horseshoe Mill Dam posed an obstacle to fish passage. The dam, spanning the Weweantic River at the head-of-tide, was built in 1827 to support a metal forge mill. Although it was once part of the infrastructure that supported Wareham’s economy, it had been decommissioned and left crumbling for decades. The defunct dam restricted to tidal inundation, hindered the migration of important fish species, and impacted riverine ecological processes.


Ecological Importance of the Weweantic River

The Weweantic River is the largest tributary to Buzzards Bay and provides 20 percent of all freshwater flow into Buzzards Bay. The meeting of salinity and nutrients through the tidal flow creates a vibrant ecosystem. It supports diverse communities of wetland species and a variety of non-migratory and migratory fish species, including river herring, white perch, and American eel. It is also home to the southernmost population of rainbow smelt in the United States, marking a significant change from a century ago when rainbow smelt were found as far south as the Chesapeake Bay. In the 1960s, smelt populations were even present in the Hudson River in New York.

Further highlighting the ecological significance of the Weweantic River and its surrounding watershed are the unique tidal freshwater wetland plant communities. The wetland areas surrounding the Horseshoe Mill Dam site contained two rare wetland plants, Parker's Pipewort (Eriocaulon parkeri) and Pygmyweed (Crassula aquatica), both of which are designated as priority habitats for rare species.

[gallery columns="2" size="medium" link="none" ids="14279,14281"]

Additionally, situated along the shore of Buzzards Bay and the Weweantic River is the Cromeset Neck & Mark's Cove Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. The 47-acre wildlife sanctuary consists of three separate parcels within one mile of each other. Salt marsh comprises most of the wildlife sanctuary, and the property also contains approximately six contiguous acres of coastal woodland.


Restoration Efforts and Project Phases

The Horseshoe Mill Dam removal project involved several phases to achieve its restoration goals.

An inspection of the dam, conducted in 2009, rated its condition as unsatisfactory and noted significant concrete deterioration and erosion. The dam also included a former concrete-walled mill race that was in a state of disrepair, with collapsed walls and obstructed channels. The Buzzards Bay Coalition acquired the 10-acre Horseshoe Mill Dam property in 2012 to preserve it, provide public access, and pursue river restoration.

In 2016, the Buzzards Bay Coalition contracted Princeton Hydro to provide an Alternatives Analysis for the Weweantic River restoration project and a Fish Passage Feasibility Study for the dam. The analysis included a thorough site investigation, historical data review, sediment evaluation, hydrologic and hydraulic analysis, and ecological assessment. The five options considered in the analysis were:

  1. No action;
  2. Structural dam repair with a fish ladder;
  3. Dam lowering with a nature-like fishway;
  4. Partial dam removal with an extended riffle; or
  5. Complete dam removal.

The analysis ultimately helped the Buzzards Bay Coalition determine that a complete dam removal offered the most favorable ecological and economic outcomes.

[caption id="attachment_12821" align="aligncenter" width="789"] The removal of Horseshoe Mill Dam commences on a snowy day in December 2019.[/caption]  

Princeton Hydro, contracted by the Buzzards Bay Coalition, provided site investigation, engineering design, permitting, and construction oversight services for the dam removal. With funding from the Bouchard 120 Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council and collaboration with various agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA, the dam removal commenced in December 2019 and was successfully completed in early 2021. Just months later in April 2021, for the first time in 150+ years, migratory fish were once again spotted swimming unimpeded from Buzzards Bay to lay their eggs in freshwater upstream.

Since the completion of the dam removal, Buzzards Bay Coalition Restoration Ecologist Sara da Silva Quintal has been consistently visiting the site and monitoring the positive changes taking place. Her observations include vegetation changes, signs of migratory fish spawning, and the geomorphic evolution of the landscape. She shared a series of Nearmap images that demonstrate how the landscape is positively adjusting to the barrier removal:


Celebrating Conservation Success

The completion of the Horseshoe Mill Dam removal project marks a significant achievement in the restoration of fish passage and the preservation of ecological function in the Weweantic River. Through the collaborative efforts of the Buzzards Bay Coalition, government agencies, and project partners, migratory fish can now freely swim upstream to their breeding grounds.

The restoration effort rejuvenated more than three miles of the Weweantic River and restored migratory fish passage. The dam removal enhanced riverine, wetland, and tidal habitat critical to a diverse group of aquatic, wildlife and plant species. It allowed for the natural extension of upriver habitat for two rare tidal plant species, ensuring their long-term survival. The restoration work also enhanced public access to the area by increasing walking trails and constructing canoe/kayak launches, promoting recreational opportunities, and fostering a deeper connection between people and the river.

[caption id="attachment_12824" align="aligncenter" width="710"] Photo taken on November 2022[/caption]  

In an article written by Kasey Silvia in November 2021, the Vice President for Watershed Protection at Buzzards Bay Coalition, Brendan Annett, was quoted as saying, “Removing this dam has immediately improved the natural functions of the Weweantic, undoing many years of environmental damage and it has already begun to bring the river back to life.”

The success of this project serves as a testament to the importance of collaborative conservation efforts in safeguarding and restoring our natural resources.


Princeton Hydro is a leader in dam removal in the Northeast, having designed and removed 80 dams. To view additional dam removal projects that we have completed, click here. For more information on our dam removal services, contact us here. [post_title] => Restoring Fish Passage and Ecological Function: The Horseshoe Mill Dam Removal Project [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => horseshoe-mill-dam-removal-project [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-01-18 03:08:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-01-18 03:08:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=12814 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 12550 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2023-05-16 14:22:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-05-16 14:22:25 [post_content] =>

In the late 1920s, the U.S. government began allocating funds for road construction in U.S. national forests. This led to hundreds of thousands of culverts being built and installed across the country for the purpose of moving water quickly and efficiently underneath the roadways to prevent flooding, minimize erosion, and provide pathways for stormwater.

However, culverts have had an unintended and significant consequence: they block the migration routes of some fish and aquatic organisms.

Culverts that are undersized, improperly placed, or designed with smooth featureless surfaces can impede or totally block fish and aquatic species from passing. Culverts with extremely high velocity flows make it incredibly difficult for aquatic organisms to navigate upstream, and extremely low velocity flows make it hard for fish to pass in either direction. The high-velocity flows can erode the stream channel immediately downstream of the culvert, which can leave the culvert pipe perched. This elevation above the water channel makes it impossible for organisms to pass through. Debris can also collect in the culvert, not only blocking fish passage, but water as well.

In addition to blocking the upstream passage of fish and other aquatic species, some culverts disrupt the normal stream movements of some macroinvertebrates, which are key components of these stream ecosystems, an important food source to countless species, and play a critical role in the cycling of energy and nutrients throughout stream ecosystems. Disruptions to the movement and dispersal of stream macroinvertebrates can reduce available habitat, lead to genetic isolation of some populations, and cause extirpation of critical species. When populations splinter, it causes a reduction in genetic diversity, which can lead to the spread of more invasive species and many other ecological issues.

[caption id="attachment_12565" align="aligncenter" width="411"] Diagram created by NOAA Fisheries[/caption]  

While culverts serve an important function in road construction and flood prevention, their impact on aquatic organisms must be taken into consideration. Finding solutions that both allow for efficient water flow and enable safe aquatic migration is crucial in preserving the health of our waterways and their ecosystems.


Addressing outdated, unsafe, and obsolete culverts

A shift in the 1980s recognized the importance of redesigning road-stream crossings for several reasons, including restoring aquatic organism passage and maintaining flood resilience. Between 2008 and 2015, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) partnered with more than 200 organizations in the Legacy Roads and Trails Program to replace 1,000+ culverts across the country. The aim of the program was to upgrade culverts to emulate natural streams and to allow fish and wildlife to pass more naturally both upstream and downstream.

Replacing culverts with structures that better facilitate the movement of both water and aquatic organisms has benefits beyond restoring critical ecosystems and improving biodiversity. Ecological restoration creates jobs, stimulates outdoor recreation and local economic activity, and generates long-term economic value.

Princeton Hydro has a strong history in designing connectivity-friendly road-stream crossings and restoring/replacing outdated culverts. Our team of engineers and scientists has been directly involved with hundreds of stream and ecosystem restoration projects throughout the Northeast.

For several years, Princeton Hydro has partnered with NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) to plan and design for aquatic connectivity through climate-ready infrastructure. Created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) at the request of the governors of New York and New Jersey, HEP develops and implements plans that protect, conserve and restore the estuary, and aquatic connectivity is a key focus area for HEP and its partners.

Most recently, HEP partnered with Princeton Hydro to address hydraulic capacity issues at priority road-stream crossings in New Jersey’s South River and Lower Raritan River watersheds. The Princeton Hydro team developed a 30% engineering plan for a priority road-stream crossing – the Birch Street crossing over the Iresick Brook in Old Bridge, NJ.


Iresick Brook Culvert Restoration

Iresick Brook is upstream from Duhernal Lake, located at the end of the free-flowing South River, which feeds into the Raritan River, and ultimately flows into Raritan Bay. Duhernal Lake is dammed at the outlet so there is little to no connectivity downstream from the Iresick Brook sub-watershed. The watershed is highly dendritic (meaning the drainage pattern follows a tree-like shape) with many small streams running through it, some of them ephemeral.

The Iresick Brook 5 (IB5) culvert, located in Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, is an undersized double culvert in poor condition with an eroding streambank. This culvert was chosen as a restoration priority primarily due its inadequate sizing (both pipes are only 3-feet in diameter). The outdated infrastructure blocks the passage of fish and other aquatic organisms, and it can only accommodate a 50-year storm event.

Once the IB5 culvert was identified as the priority site, Princeton Hydro completed a site investigation, which included a geomorphic assessment, site observations, and simplified site survey of the channel alignment, profile, and cross sections both upstream and downstream of the culvert.

At the time of the survey, flow was only a couple inches deep in the channel and incredibly slow-moving, especially in the upstream reach. Despite the low flow at the time of the survey, during storm events, the stream experiences extremely high velocities. The undersized culvert creates hydraulic constriction and subsequently a velocity barrier that prevents passage. Additionally, when the high-flow stream water is forced through the small pipes, it creates a firehose effect, which has led to the formation of a 60-foot-long scour hole at the culvert outlet. Substrate from the scour hole has been washed downstream, forming an island of large sand and small gravel.

Approximately 155 feet upstream of the culvert is a channel-spanning v-notch weir comprised of a combination of sheet pile and timber. The weir appears to be a historical stream gauge that is highly degraded and creates an artificially perched channel. The upstream channel also contains woody debris, which gets caught at the culvert, blocking water flow and organism passage.

For the design process, Princeton Hydro used the USFS Stream Simulation Design, an gold-standard ecosystem-based approach for designing and constructing road-stream crossings that provide unimpeded fish and other aquatic organism passage through the structure. The Stream Simulation, a required standard on USFS road projects, integrates fluvial geomorphology concepts and methods with engineering principles to design a road-stream crossing that contains a natural and dynamic channel through the structure so that fish and other aquatic organisms will experience no greater difficulty moving through the structure than if the crossing did not exist.

The design also incorporated utility constraints (gas line, sewer line, drinking water main, and stormwater outlet), a longitudinal profile assessment, channel capacity and slope analysis, and a simplified hydrologic & hydraulic assessment.

Ultimately, Princeton Hydro recommended that HEP replace the existing culvert with a Contech Precast O-321 culvert, or similar alternative. The proposed design increases the culvert opening area and allows for significant increases in flow capacity. This culvert replacement project has the potential to reduce local flood risk and restore aquatic organism passage to the reach of Iresick Brook.

To get a more detailed look at the IB5 culvert project and learn more about HEP and its partnership with Princeton Hydro, click below for a full presentation from Isabelle Stinnette of HEP and Jake Dittes, PE of Princeton Hydro: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-qbV9EG9Ss[/embed]

Prioritizing Culvert Restoration

Aquatic connectivity is crucial for improving healthy aquatic ecosystems and managing severe storms and flooding. Increases in rainfall due to climate change makes investing in these improvements even more of a growing priority. With so many culverts in place, it can be difficult to know which culvert restoration projects to prioritize.

We worked with HEP to create a toolkit for addressing problematic road-stream crossings. The easy-to-use matrix helps to prioritize potential projects and identify solutions for problem culverts and relative cost solutions.

The toolkit was just recently released to the public with the hope that it will be used as a template to promote the development of more resilient and environmentally-friendly infrastructure.

Click here to get more info and download.

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Aquatic connectivity is crucial for improving healthy aquatic ecosystems and managing severe storms and flooding. Increases in rainfall due to climate change makes investing in these improvements even more of a growing priority. With so many culverts in place – not to mention, many of these culverts are located in river headwaters – it can be very challenging to know which culvert restoration projects to prioritize.

Princeton Hydro partnered with New York - New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) and the Hudson River Foundation to create a toolkit for addressing problematic road-stream crossings. The easy-to-use matrix helps to prioritize potential projects and identify solutions for problem culverts and relative cost solutions.

Purpose of Toolkit

The toolkit is meant to be used by a wide audience of professionals and volunteers, including those familiar with the North America Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) protocol for assessing road stream crossings. It builds on the data collected through the NAACC (or similar) field assessments to identify the least expensive & highest priority project sites and provide solutions ranging from low-tech solutions that can be implemented by volunteers at minor blockages, to detailed engineering and construction plans that would require qualified contractors to implement at severe blockages.

The toolkit was just recently released to the public with the hope that it will be used as a template to promote the development of more resilient and environmentally-friendly infrastructure.

Download the Toolkit

Read the full description and download the toolkit now by clicking below:

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If you've ever observed orange water in a river or stream after a dam has been removed, you may have been surprised by the strange color. This phenomenon is caused by iron oxide floc. But what exactly is iron oxide floc and how does it form?

Iron oxide, also known as rust, is a common compond found in nature. When it is dissolved in water, it takes on a reddish-brown color. Although the color can be alarming, iron oxide floc is relatively harmless and is actually a sign of the waterway returning to a more natural state.

The formation of iron oxide floc begins with the seepage of anaerobic groundwater through the embankment of a dam. The groundwater behind a dam often contains high levels of iron and is anaerobic (low in oxygen) because it is not exposed to the air and therefore does not have access to oxygen. When this anaerobic water reaches the other side of the dam and mixes with the aerobic surface water, the oxygen in the surface water reacts with the iron in the groundwater, forming iron oxide floc.

The orange color of the water is a result of the floc suspending in the water column and/or settling to the bottom of the waterway, creating a layer of orange sediment. In these situations, the iron oxide floc is only a temporary effect of the dam removal, not harmful to the environment, and will eventually be washed away by natural processes. As the waterway adjusts to its new, natural flow, the iron oxide floc will eventually disappear completely.

While the orange color may be surprising to see, it is a sign that the waterway is returning to a more natural state, leading to the water quality and habitat improvements achieved by dam removals. Removing outdated dams and restoring the natural flow of rivers has myriad benefits, including reconnecting river habitats that benefit fish and wildlife; reducing flood risk to surrounding communities; and promoting a healthier and more diverse ecosystem.

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen the removal of dozens of small and large dams throughout the Northeast. Click here to learn more about our dam engineering and removal services. And, if you're interested in reading about some of the dams we've removed in the Lehigh River Valley, click below:

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According to American Rivers, “more than 90,000 dams in the country are no longer serving the purpose that they were built to provide decades or centuries ago.” As these dams age and decay, they can become public safety hazards, presenting a failure risk and flooding danger. Dams can also be environmental hazards, blocking the movement of fish and other aquatic species, inundating river habitat, impairing water quality, and altering the flow necessary to sustain river life.

Removing nonfunctional, outdated dams has myriad ecological benefits. Dam removal can improve water quality, restore a river back to its natural flowing state, reconnect river habitats that benefit fish and wildlife, and significantly increase biodiversity for the surrounding watershed.

Removing Dams in Lehigh Valley

For over a decade, Princeton Hydro has partnered with Wildlands Conservancy to remove dams in the Lehigh River Valley. Wildlands Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust in eastern Pennsylvania, works to restore degraded stream and wildlife habitat with a primary focus on Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh River watershed, which is a 1,345 square mile drainage area that eventually flows into the Delaware River.

Wildlands Conservancy contracted Princeton Hydro to design and permit the removal of two dams on the Little Lehigh Creek. Although it is referred to as the “Little Lehigh,” the 24-mile creek is the largest tributary of the Lehigh River. The dam removals restored the natural stream system, which hadn’t flowed freely in over a century.

Princeton Hydro also worked with Wildlands Conservancy to remove several barriers and three consecutive low-head dams on Jordan Creek, a tributary of the Little Lehigh Creek. Jordan Creek arises from a natural spring on Blue Mountain, and eventually joins the Little Lehigh in Allentown before flowing into the Lehigh River. It drains an area of 75.8 square miles.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="14348,14343"] As part of the dam and barrier removal projects, Princeton Hydro: - Conducted dam and site investigations; - Oversaw structural, topographic, and bathymetric field surveys and base mapping; - Performed geomorphic assessments and sediment characterization to predict river response to dam removals and develop appropriate sediment management plans; - Performed hydrologic and hydraulic analysis to predict changes in river hydraulics; - Evaluated and addressed technical issues unique to each barrier; - Coordinated with regulatory agencies and entities; - Participated in community informational meetings; - Developed engineering design plans, documents, and permit application submissions; - Developed construction cost estimates for implementing the removal of the dams and streambank stabilization; and - Performed construction oversight during implementation.

Collectively, these dam and barrier removal projects on the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creek reconnected 15+ miles of river; restored fish passage; improved aquatic connectivity, fisheries, and benthic macroinvertebrate and wildlife habitats; reduced nonpoint source stormwater pollution; improved water quality; addressed vulnerable infrastructure; enhanced climate resiliency; and stabilized and restored the creeks’ channels and banks.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="12043,14339"]

Upcoming Conservation Efforts

Building upon the successes of the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creek barrier removals, Princeton Hydro is again partnering with Wildlands Conservancy to remove three consecutive dams on Bushkill Creek in Easton, PA. The dam removal projects, which are slated for 2023, are part of a large-scale effort, involving a significant number of community and municipal partners, focused on restoring Bushkill Creek and the surrounding watershed.

The Bushkill Creek is a 22-mile long limestone stream that is designated as a “high quality, cold-water fishery.” It supports healthy populations of trout, and is treasured by anglers and the surrounding community as an important resource in an urban environment, spanning several boroughs and townships, eventually flowing into the Delaware River at Easton.

Environmental protection and restoration is a key goal of removing the dams. Removing these barriers will allow important migratory fish species to reach their spawning grounds once again, which has numerous and far-reaching ecological benefits. The project work also includes stabilizing the streambank, planting, and expanding riparian buffers, planting native trees and shrubs to filter runoff, and installing in-stream structures to restore fish habitat.

Stay tuned for more updates in 2023!

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen the reconstruction, repair, and removal of over 60 of small and large dams in the Northeast. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, click here. To learn more about Wildlands Conservancy, click here.

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The Paulins Kill River, New Jersey’s third largest tributary to the Delaware River, recently marked a significant milestone in its journey to restoration. On November 24, a crucial step was taken with the notching of the Paulina Dam, signaling a pivotal moment in the effort to return the river to its natural state. This initiative, led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and supported by a collaborative effort among several organizations, aims to restore the Paulins Kill River ecosystem, improve water quality, and allow native aquatic species to migrate freely.

[caption id="attachment_13988" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] November 24, 2023, the first notch is made in the Paulina Dam. By TNC photographer David Pexton.[/caption]

Understanding the Project

[caption id="attachment_13992" align="alignleft" width="431"] Photo by David Pexton of TNC.[/caption]

Located in Blairstown Township, Warren County, the Paulina Dam has posed challenges to both the river's health and surrounding communities. It was originally constructed 128 years ago to produce hydropower, but has not functioned in that capacity for more than 50 years. Delaware River tributaries do not have the necessary size or flow to meet even a fraction of modern energy needs.

The 13-foot-high, 207-foot-long timber crib, rock-filled structure is classified as a Class II, Significant Hazard Dam due to its proximity to the Township of Blairstown. Its removal or rehabilitation became necessary to mitigate risks to life and property. Additionally, the dam has impeded fish passage along the Paulins Kill River, impacting the habitat for native brook trout and migratory species.

The dam removal and subsequent bank stabilization aims to reconnect over 7.6 miles of mainstream and tributary habitat along the river, and improve aquatic and terrestrial connectivity, improve surface water quality, enhance recreation and public safety, and eliminate the risk of a potential unplanned breach. The removal of the dam will also reconnect upstream and downstream populations of the endangered dwarf wedge and triangle floater mussels while increasing river ecology and public recreation.

Spearheaded by TNC in partnership with Blairstown Township, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Natural Resource Restoration and Division of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Princeton Hydro, and Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture, the project received funding through grants to support the removal of the Paulina Dam. The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) awarded a grant to TNC to fund a substantial portion of the removal through the Paulins Kill and Pequest Watershed Natural Resource Restoration Grant Program.

[caption id="attachment_13996" align="alignright" width="1108"] On November 27, 2023, members from the indie pop band Nation of Language visited the site to witness the dam removal team's progress.[/caption]

Notching and Deconstruction

TNC recently completed preliminary notching of the 128-year-old Paulina Dam. From November 24 through December 1, contractors from the Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture worked in the river using heavy equipment to successfully remove a 40-foot long, six-foot high section of the structure, enabling a controlled release of the water impounded behind it.

Click below to watch as the first notch is made: [embed]https://youtu.be/XN1z2VlLeZI[/embed]

Notching is performed to dewater gradually, preventing large amounts of sediment from flowing downstream all at once and potentially harming habitat. The gradual deconstruction ensures the river's stability and minimizes environmental disruption. The project team made subsequent reductions of the dam's height by one foot each day, totaling a six-foot reduction. Complete removal of the dam is slated for July through September of 2024.

[gallery link="none" size="medium" ids="13997,13991,13989"]

Reporters from WFMZ 69 News visited the dam removal site to witness the first notch and talk with State Director of TNC in New Jersey Dr. Barbara Brummer, Blairstown Mayor Rob Moorhead, Director of Freshwater Programs at TNC in New Jersey Beth Styler Barry.

“Rivers remember,” said Beth Styler Barry, Director of Freshwater Programs at The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey. “The instant the first notch was made we could already see the Paulins Kill transforming into a more natural shape. Now with six vertical feet taken out, the water that has been stagnant for more than a century is flowing, cooling and aerating, and the natural floodplains are once again exposed and ready to revegetate.”

Click below to watch the full interview:

 

Princeton Hydro, contracted by TNC to provide site investigation, engineering design, permitting, and construction oversight services for the dam removal, has been working closely with Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture to complete the deconstruction process.

"The first day of dam demolition is always exciting; seeing the river flowing through the breached Paulina Dam after the first notch was very rewarding," said Paulo Rodriguez Heyman, Managing Member of the Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture, the team leading the construction for the project. "Removing a high-hazard dam is challenging and requires the unique expertise of working in a dynamic river system. We are honored to be part of this collaborative team."


Embracing the Future

The removal of the Paulina Dam stands as one integral facet of a larger restoration plan initiated in 2013, envisioning the removal of multiple dams along the Paulins Kill River. In removing the Paulina Dam, the downstream-most dam on the Paulins Kill, TNC continues to build upon previous watershed-wide restoration activities that includes removing four dams: the Columbia Lake Main and Remnant Dams (2019), the County Line Dam (2021), and now the Paulina Dam.

This multi-pronged effort includes wetland restoration, land protection, and floodplain reforestation—with more than 60,000 trees planted to date throughout 130 acres of floodplain. TNC has executed a 10-year “measures and monitoring” program, which began in 2016, to track conservation successes. This comprehensive effort brings hope for a rejuvenated and thriving river environment.

“The removal of Paulina Dam is not just about dismantling a structure and removing a safety hazard, but paving the way for a renewed riverine landscape, where the flow of life returns to its natural course,” said Geoffrey M. Goll, PE, President of Princeton Hydro and Engineer-of-Record for the Paulina Dam removal project. “As a mission driven firm, we seek out projects that will have a positive ecological impact. We are proud to share that three of the dam removals that we designed on the Paulins Kill - Paulina Dam, Columbia Lake Dam, and County Line Dam - will reconnect 45 miles of mainstem and tributaries for targeted migratory fish species like American shad, American eel, and sea lamprey.”

Resident fish and other aquatic organisms including mussels and trout will also benefit from habitat and water quality improvements, as will birds, pollinators and land-based animals that rely on the river for survival. [caption id="attachment_14026" align="aligncenter" width="697"] Left to Right: Geoffrey M. Goll, PE of Princeton Hydro; Beth Styler Barry of TNC; and Paulo Rodriguez Heyman of Riverlogic-Renova Joint Venture.[/caption]  

The Paulina Dam Removal will be the final step in the TNC-led restoration of the lands and waters of the Paulins Kill.

[embed]https://youtu.be/jo13xTChKLE[/embed]

As the restoration journey continues, it stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, environmental stewardship, and the dedication of communities and organizations striving to preserve and restore our natural landscapes.

Stay tuned for further updates on the incredible transformation of the Paulins Kill River!

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