On Monday, September 14th NYS DEC with help from the Student Conservation Association (SCA) started the first phase of the Marcy Dam removal project. The scope of the current project is to reduce the height of the dam by eight feet over the next five years. This will include the removal of the first tier of the log cribbing structure, as well as portions of the sidewall of the dam. The slow disassembly of the dam will allow the pond and sediments behind it to drain gradually and begin to revegetate while also reducing the chance of a large amount of sediment washing downstream. This is a sensible and well thought out approach to the removal project.
Removal of the dam will restore natural flows to the river and greatly reduce the risk of a catastrophic failure. A large failure of the dam would threaten hikers in the vicinity, especially on the new section of trail and bridge directly below it. A failure also has the potential of releasing nearly 100 years worth of sediment built up behind the dam. Such a large sediment release would threaten fish habitat for miles downstream. AsRA hopes that at the end of the removal project the remaining structure can be retrofitted to allow fish passage. Habitat fragmentation is a significant threat to our native Brook Trout and is a major focus of our work within the watershed.
This year the crews removed splash boards, top rocks from the first tier, pieces of the first tier crib, and portions of the vertical sidewalls of the dam downstream of the cribbing. Below you will find a gallery of images showing the current state of the removal project. These images were taken at the end of phase one of the removal project and represent all of the work that will be done this year.
We will miss enjoying the view of the High Peaks reflected in the waters of Marcy Dam, as we are sure many others will as well. At the same time we are glad to see the removal being done in a sensible manner and at the prospect of reconnecting important brook trout habitat.
Photos by Brendan Wiltse