The dam removal movement continues, this time with good news from the North Country.
Add the Saw Mill Dam on the Bouquet River in Willsboro to the list of obsolete fish barriers set to come down. The dam is crumbling and would cost a fortune to repair or replace, and there’s no longer a reason for it to be there — the riverside industries that relied on it for power have been gone for ages.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants the dam taken out, and the town of Willsboro has given the project local approval.
With the dam gone, landlocked salmon from Lake Champlain will presumably benefit from having access to vastly more spawning habitat.
Earlier this year, the Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to remove most of Scoby Dam in Cattaraugus Creek, a Lake Erie tributary with a great steelhead run. There, too, advocates say opening up the river to spawning fish could vastly improve fishing.
These local projects come at a time of national-wide dam removals, notably the Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River in Maine and the Elwha Dam and Glines Canyon dams in Washington state. The Felt Soul Productions documentary “Damnation,” about the harm dams can cause and the benefits of removing them, has been widely seen and praised.
“Damnation” tends to show up in local theaters when people are pressing for a dam to be removed. That was the case in October, when a showing at SUNY-Plattsburgh was sponsored by advocates of removing Imperial Dam on another Champlain tributary, the Saranac River.
The Lake Champlain chapter of Trout Unlimited has called for the removal of the Imperial for decades.
Across the lake in Vermont, advocates are calling for the removal of the Swanton Dam on the Missiquoi River to restore spawning opportunities for lake sturgeon and walleye.
The Bouquet does have a fish ladder, but it doesn’t seem to do much good — only a few dozen salmon traverse it in a typical year. Removing the Bouquet’s dam seems likely to significantly improve salmon fishing in the area.
A strong run of salmon is a phenomenon most localities don’t get to enjoy. It can have tremendous economic value — just look how crowded Pulaski gets during the runs of Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout in the fall.
Anything the Lake Champlain shoreline communities can do to boost their runs of landlocked Atlantic salmon will put smiles on anglers’ faces, and dollars in local businesses’ cash registers.
“I’m hoping with the dam’s removal, the ecosystem can be restored and help the town prosper in a different way,” Vic Putnam of the Greater Adirondack Resource Conservation and Development Council told the Valley News.
HOLIDAY TU GATHERING
The Clearwater chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold its annual Fly Tying Round Table and Holiday Celebration Dec. 15 at the Albany Ramada Plaza Hotel, 3 Watervliet Ave. Ext., Albany. The monthly fly-tying demo will begin at 6:30, followed by chapter business and announcements. The meeting is free and open to the public. Fly-tiers of all skill levels are invited to bring their vises and tools to stock up for the 2015 season, swap fish tales and enjoy some holiday cheer. Details are at clearwatertu.org.
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