The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Serena McClain, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550
Monica Allen, NOAA Public Affairs, (301) 713-2370

American Rivers and NOAA Award $310,000 to Restore Rivers and Improve Fish Passage

Community-based Habitat Restoration Program Partnership grants awarded to projects in five states


Rivers and fisheries nationwide are getting a boost, thanks to a partnership between American Rivers, the nation's leading river conservation organization, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center. $310,000 in Community-based Habitat Restoration Program Partnership grants were awarded this year to improve fish passage on rivers in five states.

Over the past seven years, the collaboration between American Rivers and NOAA has resulted in more than $2 million being invested in more than 100 projects that provide passage for migratory fish through dam or culvert removal, as well as through traditional and nontraditional fish passage methods.

"All across the country, people are changing the way they look at rivers, from something that cuts a town in half, to something that can bind a community together," said Rebecca Wodder, President of American Rivers. "We're thrilled to be working side by side with NOAA so that communities across the nation can experience the joy of a thriving river, and the economic opportunities it brings with it."

"Strong community-based stewardship is the key ingredient to successful coastal habitat restoration," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "Our partnership with American Rivers promotes local action on behalf of the habitat that sustains our nation's fishery resources and communities."

This year's awardees are:

Willamette River, Oregon ($29,000): The project will remove three partial fish-passage barriers and open up two miles of important side-channel habitat for native chinook, coho and steelhead. The overall plan will breach the inlet and outlet dikes on Mission Slough and replace three failing corrugated pipe culverts with a bottomless arch culvert. The funds for the project will be administered by Willamette Riverkeeper.

Black Brook, New Hampshire ($50,000): Black Brook Dam has overtopped during recent major flood events and continues to threaten downstream communities, a local road, and businesses. Its removal will eliminate a significant public safety risk. Removal of the dam will also revitalize Black Brook, improving the overall water quality and ultimately removing the stream from the state's 303(d) list, and restore eight miles of free-flowing river habitat for alewife, blueback herring, Atlantic salmon, and other migratory fish. The City of Manchester, who is administering the grant, is also planning a major park revitalization effort in anticipation of the river restoration project. Along with the City of Manchester, many partners have been involved in making this project a success, including the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the New Hampshire State Conservation Committee, the New Hampshire Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, Trout Unlimited, New Hampshire Fish & Game, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Brandywine River, Delaware ($50,000): The grant will provide funding to complete an analysis of fish passage alternatives, including dam removal, for Dam #1 on the Brandywine River in Wilmington, Delaware. Dam #1, the first of 11 dams targeted for removal or modification on the river, is the first step in the larger goal of restoring habitat for a variety of fish along the Brandywine River. The State of Delaware, City of Wilmington and US Fish and Wildlife Services have also provided funds for this project. The funds will be administered through The Brandywine Conservancy.

Circle Creek, Oregon ($49,000): The project aims to restore passage for juvenile coho, sea-run cutthroat and lamprey at the culvert crossing on Circle Creek spanning Mulligan Spur road. Currently, the culvert prevents juvenile fish from reaching upstream rearing habitat, and from escaping dangerous storm and high-water events. Replacing the existing culvert with a bottomless arch design will restore upstream and downstream passage for juvenile fish and improve passage for adults. The funds for the project will be administered through Trout Unlimited.

Shingle Mill Gulch, California ($50,000): The project will restore federally designated critical habitat in Shingle Mill Gulch, a tributary of Corralitos Creek, by replacing the existing culvert with a bridge, so the creek can flow freely. Replacing the culvert will remove the final impediment on this stretch of the watershed and restore traditional spawning and rearing habitat for south-central California coast steelhead. The project will also restore streamside trees and vegetation and reduce the amount of sediment in the Corralitos Watershed. The culvert in question provides access to the Koinonia Conference Grounds, which hosts school groups throughout the year. The failing culvert has resulted in narrow, often challenging passage for large school and emergency vehicles. Replacing the culvert with a bridge will allow these vehicles safer access to the site. The funds for the project will be administered through The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County.

Shawsheen River, Massachusetts ($50,000): The Shawsheen River Restoration project will examine the feasibility and design for three dam removals on the Shawsheen River that will provide 25 mainstem river miles and 60 tributary miles of high quality habitat for American shad, river herring, American eel and other migratory and resident fish. By restoring these fish as well as natural river and floodplain habitat, the Shawsheen restoration will provide substantial ecosystem benefits to the Merrimack River watershed, central New England and the Gulf of Maine. The project will also provide significant social, cultural and economic benefits, through education, stewardship and downtown improvement opportunities. The Shawsheen River restoration is being accomplished by a partnership of state, federal, local and non-governmental organizations, including the Town of Andover, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Center for Ecosystem Restoration, working closely with dam owners and other local stakeholders.

Waterman Creek, California ($32,000): The funding will remove Waterman Dam, a 100-year-old log dam constructed in association with a turn of the century redwood logging mill. The removal of this 12-foot high dam, which has prevented steelhead from accessing valuable sections of Waterman Creek, will open approximately one mile of spawning habitat. Waterman Creek feeds into Pescadero Creek near Pescadero, a local farming and ranching community whose beaches and outdoor environment make it a popular weekend tourist destination. The funds for the project will be administered through The San Mateo County Farm Bureau.

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.