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RCPP: Columbia Dam Removal

Regional Conservation Partnership Program
Project Summary: Columbia Dam Removal & Restoration on Paulins Kill

This map shows area to be restored through this project.In 2011, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) carried out an analysis with the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to identify dams in the northeast region having the highest impact on migrating fish. The Columbia Dam was ranked in the top 5% of all dams prioritized for removal (nearly 14,000).

In 2012, TNC began communications with the NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife (NJDEP), the dam owner, regarding removal. Since 2013, TNC has been working with stakeholders on plans to remove the Columbia Dam and a downstream remnant dam to restore and reconnect habitat for diadromous fish species including American shad, blueback herring, alewife, American eel and native sea lamprey, and to restore 32 acres of floodplain habitat currently inundated by the Columbia Dam.

Removal of the Columbia Dam has been accomplished, opening 20 miles of streams in the Paulins Kill watershed (11 miles of mainstem + 9 miles of tributaries) to migratory fish.

What's next?

Degraded in-stream habitat will be restored in the 1.5-mile impoundment upstream of the Columbia Dam. In addition, restoration and revegetation of approximately 32 acres of floodplain inundated by the dam will be undertaken. Improvements anticipated as a result of this effort throughout the 1.5 mile reach include lowering temperature and increasing dissolved oxygen.

Restoration efforts will begin in Spring/Summer 2019.

NRCS Program Opportunities through this RCPP Agreement

Through this RCPP agreement, funding is set aside for restoration activities in the project area through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The subject project is in the Hackettstown NRCS service area. NRCS can accept applications for this RCPP project from EQIP-eligible individuals and/or entities in the project area for restoration activities. Applications received by March 1, 2019, will be considered for funding.

RCPP Project Partners

  • NJDEP Office of Natural Resource Restoration
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service

updated February 1, 2019