Musconetcong Dam Removal Update

Brian Cowden – TU’s Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative Coordinator

September 2011

Wood Dam Removal

“Upper wood dam removal at Riegelsville”

The Musky recently saw three (3) remnant dams removed on the lower river between the Finesville dam and the Delaware River. This project was spearheaded by our partners at the Musconetcong Watershed Association who received grants for approximately $55,000 for the removal work. TU contributed an additional $10, 700 to date to restore two badly eroded banks on properties adjacent to the upper dam to ensure the project could move forward. These landowners initially opposed this project sighting their fears of additional erosion if the dams were removed and only by TU stepping in to ensure them that we would use heavy equipment to repair their banks and plant them in the fall of 2011 avoided the need for a lengthy open public meetings requirement and the loss of at least one more year. We continue to search for minimal funding needed to plant the banks of these two properties in October or November.

The dams, one dating to 1790 which was made entirely of stone and the others being wooden coffer dams dating to 1850 and 1890 respectively, once fueled grist, saw and paper mills close to the confluence with the Delaware River. All three dams were considered “low flow impediments to anadromous fish

Bank Restoration

Sulla property bank restoration

passage” and that is why they were targeted for removal. By doing so, we have improved the score for future dam removal funding from the federal agencies and helped restore species that haven’t been above these structures like American shad, striped bass and river herring in well over 100 years. Permits are expected to arrive for the removal of the Finesville dam which may take place this year if water levels cooperate. That is the first major dam upstream of the Delaware. TU has also hired Princeton Hydro to begin feasibility studies to remove the Hughesville paper mill dam, which is dam # 2 upstream of the Delaware. Our Musconetcong River Restoration Partnership will be meeting this
Upper Wood Dam

Upper dam wood post construction

fall to engage the owners of the Warren Glen and Hughesville dams to consider allowing us to fully remove those dams beyond the feasibility study at Hughesville. A recent engineering report required by DEP Dam Safety & Flood Control regarding the condition of the Warren Glen dam, the 3rd dam upstream of the Delaware and the state’s largest, has proven that this structure is in need of significant rehabilitation or removal. This dam backs up about half of the famed Musky Gorge and is half owned by the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife.