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Predicting the effects of dam removal on aquatic communities in the Salmon River, New York. Phase 1. Baseline data
Alternative Title
Final RTeport Grant 671, Great Lakes Protection Fund
John E. Cooper, John M. Farrell, Jason A. Toner
Date Created and/or Issued
05/21/2005 Revised 02/12/2009
Publication Information
State University of New York
Contributing Institution
UC Riverside, Library, Water Resources Collections and Archives
Clearinghouse for Dam Removal Information (CDRI)
Rights Information
Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Scope/Content: Abstract: Dam removal has been used as a means of river restoration but few dam removal programs have included collecting comprehensive baseline data that could be used to evaluate the effect of dam removal on the aquatic habitat. Phase 1 of this study was designed to collect data on the aquatic community (defined here as sediment, macroinvertebrates, fish, and aquatic plants) of the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers to be used in predicting the effects of removing the Fort Covington Dam. Sand comprised the highest mean weight of any fraction at all transects sampled, ranging from 58 to 98%. The center of each river was composed primarily of coarse sand with fine sand and silt along the river banks. Embeddedness in the riffles ranged from 20 to 40% in the riffles where the substrate was cobble, boulder, and bedrock mixed with coarse sand. Deposition of sediment behind the dam was minimal, equal to about 5% of the annual sediment production of the watershed, and was concentrated on the west side of the river. Water level changes showed that both rivers responded rapidly to inputs of precipitation, particularly snowmelt and localized thunderstorms. Hydrographs were similar at locations upstream and downstream of the dam as well as in the Little Salmon River. There did not appear to be any measurable influence to water level from the St. Lawrence River, however, a sustained decrease in water level was noted in all the rivers in September, 2004, indicating that substantial water level changes may be correlated. Ice cover formed in late November and broke up in late March. The maximum ice thickness was 0.6 m. Water temperature reached a maximum of about 27ºC in late June or July. Water chemistry tests indicated that the river water could be classified as turbid, soft water with moderate buffering capacity. None of the parameters tested exceeded any guidelines for drinking water supply and the results were similar to that found in previous studies. A total of 102 macroinvertebrate taxa was collected from 15 transects. Six biotic indices were constructed using 88 families of macroinvertebrates to assess the effect from the dam. There was lower diversity in the run transects than in the riffle transects and was attributed to reduced flow velocity and limited habitat in the glides. The combined score from the indices indicated that the impact to water quality was 'slight'. Chironomidae (midges) dominated the glides but no single family dominated the riffles: dominance alternated among Elmidae (riffle beetles), Hydropsychidae (net-spinning caddisflies), Baetidae (small minnow mayflies), and Chironomidae. Six unionid mussel species were collected in the study area. The distribution of unionid mussel species does not seem to be affected by the dam since five of the six species were collected upstream and downstream of the dam. Fewer juvenile mussels were collected than expected and may indicate a low level of reproductive success but a more thorough study would be necessary to determine this. Forty-three species of fishes were collected in the study area and the species composition was similar to that found in a 1930 survey. Three fish species that were present in 1930 were not collected in the present study: blacknose shiner, channel darter, and Johnny darter. Six species that were not collected in 1930 were collected in the present study: longnose gar, carp, central mudminnow, American eel, largemouth bass, and brook silverside. No sea lamprey was collected but silver lamprey and American brook lamprey were present in low abundance. The most abundant fish species was brown bullhead. The major predators were smallmouth bass, longnose gar, northern pike, and walleye. Mimic shiner and bluntnose minnow were the more abundant forage fish. Eastern sand darter (a threatened species in New York) was ninth in relative abundance and was collected upstream and downstream of the dam, in the Little Salmon River, and at the confluence of the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. Scores from the fish index of biotic integrity suggest that the rivers
Scope/Content: Author affiliation: ESF, State University of New York
Scope/Content: Dam type: concrete
Scope/Content: Dam type: gravity
Scope/Content: Reservoir size: 42240 acre-ft. Height: 2.7 m. Length: 27 m.
Scope/Content: Date constructed: 1913. Date removed: 2009.
Ecology and river restoration
Pre- and post-project monitoring
Dam retirement
Salmon River, NY
Fort Covington
Lat: 44 59 25; Long: 74 29 30

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