TROY, Idaho — Crews in the North Idaho city of Troy have started removing an abandoned dam with the goal of improving fish passage and spawning habitat for threatened steelhead.
The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports that work started Wednesday taking out the Dutch Flat Dam and is expected to take about a month.
“We have a pretty good spawning habitat up north of here,” said Bob Ries, a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service. “We’d certainly get some kind of boost in the population.”
Authorities say the dam on the west fork of Little Bear Creek was built in 1919 to create a municipal water reservoir but was abandoned by 1925 when it filled with sediment from upstream farming and logging activities.
“This impoundment, or whatever you want to call it, outlived its purpose by 80-90 years,” said Troy Mayor Ken Whitney.
A crew from the city is running a mounted hydraulic hammer and backhoe to knock down the dam. Money to help pay for the work is coming from the Idaho Office of Species Conservation and Bonneville Power Administration.
Idaho Fish and Game officials said tagging and tracking steelhead found a high density of fish in the creek below the dam.
“They were making it up to the dam,” said Ken Stinson, Latah Soil and Water Conservation District manager. “They just couldn’t get past the dam.”
Fish and Game removed about 200 fish of different ages and sizes from above and below the dam before the demolition started.
“Anywhere in the construction area, fish are removed and placed downstream, where they’ll be safe from the construction activities,” said Damon Keen, Fish and Game biologist. “We actually found a fair number of fish.”
Besides taking out the dam, about 10,000 cubic yards of sediment also has to be removed. Once that’s finished, officials plan to monitor the fish population to see what happens.
“We usually find fish getting up there immediately the next year,” Reis said.
On another planned project in the area, Fish and Game is working with the Idaho Transportation Department to replace or modify a culvert under Idaho Highway 8 that is blocking steelhead from reaching a portion of Big Meadow Creek. But work isn’t expected to start until 2015.
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