View Full Version : Removing Small Dams?

04-05-2010, 02:30 PM
Haven't been on for a while, used to be known as "danmcmartin". Noticed the board was back up and improved and thought I'd check in with a few questions?

Anyway, on a creek near my house, there are many man made rock and log dams. Most are near camping spots or in meadows. I can't imagine what the purpose is except maybe to make small shallow pools to swim in. This is not a blue ribbon trout stream, just you typical small trout creek that in many places you can jump across but it holds a good population of both wild and planted trout. You can see the damage those dams do to the stream. They broaden and make the water shallower behind them, they silt in behind the dam likely warming the water more than would normally happen, and in some cases probably prevent the movement of fish. On another much smaller creek, I removed a dam like that and while my son and I watched a 14 inch brookie swam up through the new opening I had created.

Anyway, I have some time on my hands and I would love to go remove some of these. Am I nuts? Are these really a big deal? Would removing them help the stream? Has anyone done this? Can I get in trouble from the Forest Service?

04-05-2010, 07:01 PM
...and some angry rancher comes after you with a rifle because you destroyed his livestock's watering hole...

they are there for a reason even if you cant think of a logical one.
Maybe they are for livestock on private property
maybe they are for campers to swim
maybe for some flood control
who knows?

04-07-2010, 01:26 PM
Prior to Europeans coming to the area most of the streams in Northern California had large populations of beaver. The beavers built multiple dams on these streams, creating large ponds. The trout living in those streams seemed to have adapted to the conditions. These small rock dams, while they do silt in behind them, prevent major erosion, just like the old beaver dams did. In areas where beaver are abundant today, the ponds created by their dams are prime trout fishing spots. I have fished many ponds like that in Maine and have caught a lot of nice trout t in them. I would encourage the enlargement of ponds you find rather than the destruction of them. That and encouraging the reintroduction of beaver into the rivers and streams in which they were indigenous at the time of European contact in California. Nature is always better at maintaining the balance then we are.

04-07-2010, 04:23 PM
Nature is always better at maintaining the balance then we are.

I would agree that nature better at these things than we are, so I am not sure why a small rock dam installed by some camper would be a good thing. Its not natural and it changes the stream in an unnatural way. And its only a good fishing hole until it silt in and becomes to shallow. Not only that, the dam can prevent, or at least make it more difficult for trout to move up and down stream.

04-07-2010, 06:54 PM
Remove them ,unless they are beaver dams .

04-09-2010, 03:29 PM
If a small rock dam prevents fish from moving up and down a stream what to you think a beaver dam does? The beaver do not flip fish from hole to hole with their tails, unlike some cartoon beavers. Leave the dams in place or go find a family of beaver and go through the permit process to move them.