Update on the Benbow Dam Removal Project
On August 1, what NOAA called the second-largest dam removal in California began. Benbow Dam which formed a seasonal 123 acre lake on the Eel River from approximately 1928 until 2007 is being torn down.
The dam has not been functional for 9 years but now construction workers are removing the concrete footings and restoring the natural habitat.
NOAA says the dam is “a safety hazard” that “limits threatened coho and Chinook salmon, and steelhead, from reaching their upstream habitat.”
Drew Carrico, a local pilot took these photos of the dam removal today (Saturday, August 27.)
According to NOAA,
Before the dam was built, roughly 20,000 Chinook and as many as 17,000 coho salmon swam past the dam site. In 2010, there were only 1,000 Chinook and 500 coho in this part of the Eel River.
The dam is also causing safety issues. The banks of the lake have eroded due to the unnatural wave action caused by the lake and sediment accumulation
upstream of the dam. The lake is surrounded by redwood trees, but erosion is causing the banks to be unstable, and they are toppling over. The dam itself is in poor repair and could become a liability.
UPDATE Sunday: Photos of the last year that Benbow Lake was filled by Kim Sallaway. (Like his Facebook page to see more photos from the area.)