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Dam removal on upper Spruce Run Creek

Rusty Spinner

Active member
Shane's post on keeping NEFF alive reminded me to post about why he and I hooked our two companies up. I hired his firm to perform fish capture on Beisler Lake which is a Lutheran church camp on the upper reaches of Spruce Run Creek this past November. DEP Dam Safety is forcing the camp to bring the dam into compliance, and rehabilitation would cost them $1.4 million. Removal is less than 1/3 that cost, so the decision was easy enough for the camp to make. I was hired to perform the first phase which is a "permanent lake lowering". We cranked open the dam's valve which is 10' below the lake surface and drained it down to about 3' deep (average depth was 8' - 11').

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But we needed to be very concerned about sediment entering the river as brook and brown trout were about to spawn below the dam and because of the emergency cleanup of the lower river by Eastern Concrete after their Glen Gardner quarry spill of granite dust was ongoing. We had lots of DEP eyes on our lowering, hence using some instruments to monitor sediment, temps, flows, pH, etc. even though they were not required for our water lowering permit.

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Filtrexx's Silt Soxx were installed as coffer dams to reduce sediment loads into the stream below. We built two of them across the stream.

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Monitoring our lowering which allowed science based decisions to reduce downstream impacts.....

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Lowering it down.

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Once we got it down enough, Shane's crew entered the picture to capture all the fish for relocation save for two species - alwives and mirror carp which were euthanized per Division regulations. They used a boat with electrofishing gear over a two day period to remove well over 3,000 fish.

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One of two mirror carp captured from an illegal stocking. This was the small one! This fish weighed 40 lbs and the one that I don't have a photo of was closer to 50 lbs.

Once the fish were captured and the bass, sunfish, crappies, and perch were relocated to Hunterdon Parks' Crystal Springs Preserve just upstream a bit, I lowered it fully and permanently. Then I brought in a local contractor who is hydro seeding the former lake bed to stabilize the soils. They will finish up tomorrow and Thursday after they spread straw over the seed the sprayed last month.

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Now we do the final engineering work, HEC-RAS modeling, and obtain all necessary permits to remove the concrete spillway and open a portion of the earthen dam and restore the stream over this 6.8 acre pond for the benefit of native brook trout and wild brown trout for a stream that supplies drinking water to 2 million NJ residents. Shane's firm was a key player because my only other option was to use a direct competitor that I don't think very highly of these days. Thanks, Shane!

Next year I can update the job with the dam's removal, the in-stream habitat restoration, and the full planting of trees and shrubs in the former impoundment. In the meantime, my client has bought the time they needed to get DEP Enforcement and DEP Dam Safety off their backs with the lake fully drained save for the small stream flowing through the sediment left over from this 1974 built pond.
 

Rusty Spinner

Active member
I wished I had taken some good shots of the bigger bass. Every single one had at least 2 or 3 fish tails sticking out of their mouths. The predation that occurs during a drawdown is impressive to watch. It was a veritable feeding frenzy every day I stopped by to monitor our lowering progress. On top of the illegally stocked mirror carp were illegally stocked alewives which also kept the bass more than a little happy. The crappies and perch as well!
 

Rusty Spinner

Active member
This is beyond awesome....are you going to get to restore Eastern concretes spill area as well?

Too soon to say. I have not been in contact with them at this time. Lots of reasons for that which I can't go into here. I'll have to swing by your drive through one day soon and catch up.
 

sh4ne87

Strictly powerbait fisher with an ounce of lead.
Great post! This was a cool project for all of us being that it was very high profile. I believe it was on the top of the state's list for dam removal. It's very rare that DEP even shows up. We used it in a presentation and I am sure I can find more pictures of the project to add.

It's sad what Eastern Concrete did and it is my understanding that a guy failed to shut off a pipe and released sediment for almost 1.5 miles. I know sediment remediation is occurring but it resulted in a high mortality rate of the macroinvertebrates.

To add why this forum is great, I once found a fly box floating down the WB and was able to return it to the gentleman because of this site. There are many excellent archived posts to help newcomers and seasoned veterans alike. There is some solid history to this site.

FYI - still trying to get simms to log on.
 

Rusty Spinner

Active member
Great post! This was a cool project for all of us being that it was very high profile. I believe it was on the top of the state's list for dam removal. It's very rare that DEP even shows up. We used it in a presentation and I am sure I can find more pictures of the project to add.

It's sad what Eastern Concrete did and it is my understanding that a guy failed to shut off a pipe and released sediment for almost 1.5 miles. I know sediment remediation is occurring but it resulted in a high mortality rate of the macroinvertebrates.

To add why this forum is great, I once found a fly box floating down the WB and was able to return it to the gentleman because of this site. There are many excellent archived posts to help newcomers and seasoned veterans alike. There is some solid history to this site.

FYI - still trying to get simms to log on.

The spill impacted 1.7 miles and all the way into the reservoir which is where heavy efforts have been focused to get that area cleaned up. Look at the picture of me stepping into the channel in an uncleaned (at the time) section. I just needed to take a depth reading for some visual assessments we (TU trained vols) were doing. That is one size 10 boot put down for a few seconds and removed. The silt was like wet enriched flour in consistency.

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