Environmental Protection

New York Resumes Fort Covington Dam Removal

Tatro Construction of Vermont resumed work on removing Fort Covington Dam on the Salmon River in New York, after high river flows postponed work started last fall.

The dam removal has been a true partnership effort including American Rivers and other conservation organizations, government agencies, private foundations, industry and academia, according to a July 1 press release.

“This is a significant project for communities in the Salmon River watershed, and for the entire state of New York,” said Stephanie Lindloff, senior director for river restoration at American Rivers, and co-project manager of the Fort Covington Dam removal.

The Fort Covington Dam is the first barrier on the Salmon River, located five miles from the confluence with the St. Lawrence River. The dam is a public safety hazard that also contributes to upstream flooding because it causes high flows to back up more than they naturally would in a free-flowing river.

In addition to improving public safety, the dam removal will enhance recreational boating opportunities and reestablish fish access to more than 35 miles of the Salmon River and tributaries. The project will boost sport fisheries like walleye, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, brown trout and rainbow trout, and will bring significant benefits to this rural community. The construction crew initially began the project in fall 2008, but the project was postponed due to high flows in the Salmon River.

“The damming and diversion of free-flowing rivers and streams result in habitat fragmentation and limited options for fish migrations,” said Christopher D. Doley, Director of the NOAA Restoration Center. “Each dam requires a specific set of conservation actions, and for the Fort Covington Dam, removal was the best option.”

“This dedicated partnership to remove the Fort Covington Dam, which will help enhance the vitality of the St. Lawrence River Valley, underscores the Power Authority’s commitment to stewardship of environmental and recreational North Country projects,” said Richard M. Kessel, president and chief executive officer, New York Power Authority.

Primary partners and funders of the construction phase of the project include: Town of Fort Covington, American Rivers, FishAmerica Foundation and the American Sportfishing Association, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, New York Chapter of the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, New York Power Authority, NOAA Community-based Restoration Program, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The engineering firm Milone and MacBroom, Inc. of Connecticut designed the project.

Additional partners of the planning and design phase include Great Lakes Protection Fund, New York Rivers United, NOAA Great Lakes Coastal Watershed Restoration Program, NYS Department of State, Ohio State University, State Senator Elizabeth Little, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

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