During this Friday's mini-course the sophomore and junior cohorts went to Englewood MetroPark to learn about the lowhead dam removal program there. Two members of the project team met us by the site of the removal and explained to us the process. Federal grant money, administered by the Ohio EPA, was distributed to Five Rivers MetroParks for the purpose of removing the dam. Lowhead dam removal is important for both safety and ecological reasons. The removal was to be in three steps. The first step was to shave down part of the dam so that more water could flow through. The entire dam wasn't removed immediatly though because too much flow would displace great amounts of silt that would damage the ecosystem. The second step was to remove the dam entirely. The lowhead dam removal at Stillwater has been a great success ecologically. Fish species have returned to the area that had not been seen for years and other wildlife has returned as well. The third step in the process is to continue monitoring the success of the removal through water quality and macroinvertebrate testing. In addition, there will be continuing efforts to improve water quality and flow in the river.
A project like this takes years of planning and a lot of effort. We would like to see more low dam removal in the Dayton area in the future because we see the ecological and recreational benefits of doing so. We also now know that the lowhead dam removal process is expensive and lengthy and therefore more fully appreciate what Five Rivers has done to protect our rivers.