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Water, Land, Life
WPC enewsletter

November 2010

WPC Completes Savan Dam Removal on the Little Mahoning

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, with the assistance of several partners, removed a 100-foot dam on Little Mahoning Creek on Oct. 4. The dam was removed to restore natural stream flow and to enable fish and other aquatic species to move freely. Our biological assessment indicated that mussels and hellbender salamanders in particular were not found above the dam, which was partitioning the natural flow of the water.

This significant stream improvement project was carried out with staff and volunteers of the Little Mahoning Creek Watershed Association and the Department of Environmental Protection. The 100-foot dam was removed using a large excavator and manual labor.

"Savan Dam has existed on Little Mahoning Creek for more than 70 years, and is well-known in the area. Unfortunately, the structure has been steadily crumbling while also serving as a barrier for fish and other aquatic animals seeking to move upstream," said Nick Pinizzotto, WPC's associate vice president for watershed conservation and conservation services.

The Conservancy will work with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to create wildlife habitat in the newly restored section of the stream after the channel has taken its natural course.

The project represents a high point in a multi-year, $1.5 million project to improve the 114-square-mile Little Mahoning watershed. "The dam removal is the next major project following a long list of habitat enhancement and sediment-reducing practices that we have already installed with the help of many local partners and landowners. Our goal is the overall protection and improvement of this outstanding watershed, and this project represents a significant step in that direction," said Pinizzotto.

To date, WPC and its partners have completed a comprehensive assessment of the entire watershed; improved more than 20 miles of the stream; and worked with numerous landowners to reduce impacts to the Little Mahoning watershed and improve water quality. The Conservancy also has completed five projects that improve in-stream habitat for fish, mussels, aquatic insects and eastern hellbender salamanders.

Click on the slides below to progress the slideshow.

The Savan Dam, before removal.

A large excavator with a jackhammer attachment begins the removal of the dam.

After demolition, the remains of the dam must be removed.

Little Mahoning, restored to its natural state.




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