Monday, March 4, 2024

Paulina Dam Removal Process Restarts

The Blairstown Township Committee (BTC) announced summer 2024 as the tentative date for the removal of the Paulina Dam, at a committee meeting on Nov 9.

The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental organization, working with the BTC found that the removal of the Paulina Dam and preservation of the Paulinskill aligned with its mission and agreed to financially contribute to this project in April of 2021.

Beth Styler Barry, the Director of River Restoration for the Conservancy spoke at the township committee meeting about the timeline of removal.

November 2022: An engineer hired by the conservancy is currently reviewing a removal design and making modifications as necessary. Creating a design is a complicated process. According to Barry specifics such as where the removal begins, how the silt will be taken out, and how the dam will be lowered are all up for decision.

February 2023: The Nature Conservancy will present their design plans to Blairstown Township and the state for approval.

“Then we will receive the actual permits and if everything goes as planned, we’ll be bidding the job out to contractors in the spring,” stated Barry.

Summer 2023: Implementation of the removal design could begin as early as June. Over the course of the summer the dam will be lowered, one foot at a time. The dam might spend the fall and winter in a graduate state.

Barry explains, “That’s what the state of New Jersey allows. Gradual lowering allows for all of the aquatic life to kind of adjust to that lowering, it also really helps to make sure that a lot of the sediment does not go downstream.”

Summer 2024: Full removal of the Paulina Dam:

Several years ago, the DEP Bureau of Dam Safety required the township to remove or rehabilitate the dam since the spillway has insufficient capacity for the design flood. The removal of the dam will connect upstream and downstream fish populations, while improving river ecology. Throughout this project, the Paulinskill River will continue to be stocked.

When asked about how the river would look after the dam is removed, Barry responded that it would return to its original state— a flowing stream with a rocky bottom.

“It was like that for about 12,000 years… it’s gonna go back to that way.”

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Alex Tironi, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

A recent graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, Alex pursued a degree in journalism with a double minor in American Sign Language and nonprofit studies. She worked as assistant news editor to the Fourth Estate, the university newspaper where she reported on many things but mostly focused on campus crime and PD activity. While working for a nonprofit called the Borgen Project, she wrote about global health and poverty in third-world nations. Alex recently finished an internship writing and editing for a business consulting company in NY. Growing up in the area, she has always been active in her community and brings the same intention as a contributing writer for the Ridge View Echo.