Monday, February 28, 2011

Dam Gone, Leopold and Steelhead Celebrate

Aldo Leopold and the steelhead are happy today. Leopold's Land Ethic artfully made the case that dams do more damage than good and while the damage done by the dams of the Midwest pale to those in the Northwest, nonetheless all those who believe in the Round River have to be cheering today.

Heavy rains and melting snow took out the small dam in Gates Mills on the Chagrin River this morning. has some good pictures of the scene. While I regret the flooding downstream (and all across Northeast Ohio), the dam needed to be removed and Mother Nature did us all a favor.

Our children used to capture crayfish and catch smallmouth at the base of the dam. While it brought us hours of enjoyment, the dam totally disrupted the natural flow of the river, warmed the water upstream and destroyed miles of potential native brook trout habitat. It is hard to say how the river will respond to running free again in the years ahead, but for the short term it means steelhead will be able spawn upstream to the barrier falls in Chagrin Falls. More than likely the cool headwaters of the Chagrin and small tributaries will result in more successful spawning of steelhead. Steelheaders are already celebrating on

And it is possible that some of the native brook trout in the Chagrin watershed will be able to expand their territory. To protect and enhance the brook trout fishery, I'd be willing to halt stocking of steelies in the Chagrin. But that will be a long way off, I'd guess.

For now, I'm just glad the dam is gone.

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