In case you haven’t been paying attention (what with all the studying you’re doing), the world now has one less dam than it did a few weeks ago.
Ohio River Foundation (and a whole bunch of other people, but I’m not married to their ED) arranged to have the West Milton low-head dam removed to return the Stillwater River to its original free flowing bed.
The dam was built in 1918 to power the local trolley. The local trolley is no longer either local or a trolley but the dam continued to sit there creating a lake and slowly disintegrating. Personally, I’m convinced that the dam was disintegrating because it sat there without exercising. See how important it is to get up and move around every now and then?
Also, I’m convinced that the construction of the dam (almost 100 years ago) was illegal since no beavers were consulted. Don’t you just love the idea of a little beaver wearing a yellow hard-hat and scurrying around giving engineering advice? (Must stop for a fit of giggles.)
Anyway, over the last week or two, Ohio River Foundation and Those Other Folks worked together to take the dam down bit by bit. This was far less dramatic than the explosion we were promised when this project began 4 years ago, but the beavers said take it slow, so that’s what happened.
Basically, a big honking yellow machine (see video) took out a notch in the dam. Once the level of the lake stabilized, wonderful (and probably very cold) people dug up the fresh water mussels that had been quietly minding their own clammy business for however long they’d been alive. The mussels were then given a nice hot meal, a lecture about bathing regularly, and a ride to a re-gentrified neighborhood upriver.
The beavers were going to protest since they wanted the mussels for dinner, but union rules are very strict.
You would think with all those mussels the dam would be strong. (Sorry, it just had to be said.)
Why rescue freshwater mussels?
At the turn of the century, the Ohio River basin was home to 127 of the 297 freshwater mussel species native to North America. Since that time, however, human changes in the environment have taken their toll; 11 mussel species are extinct, and 46 others are classified as endangered or species of concern. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Ohio River Valley Ecosystem Team has identified mussels as one of its highest resource priorities.
Ohio River Foundation
Rinse and repeat until the entire dam was removed and all the mussels that could be found were relocated.
Obviously, there’s still much to be done and Ohio River Foundation (and Other Folks) are hard at work getting nature back to nature. Anyone who would like to make a donation to help with this effort can do so at www.ohioriverfdn.org (yep, it’s tax deductible).