In Maryland, wild brook trout now have access to a few more miles of coldwater stream habitat. During the summer of 2011, the Savage River Watershed Association (SRWA) held an event to celebrate completion of the Savage River Headwater Dam Removal and Stream Restoration Project.
The project restored natural stream conditions along a 600 foot section of the upper Savage River to improve habitat for Brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, Maryland’s only native freshwater trout species.
In 2006 the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) listed brook trout as a "Species in Greatest Need of Conservation" leading to the development of a brook trout Fisheries Management Plan.
The plan includes a focus on the upper Savage River resource, which includes over 100 miles of interconnected streams. The area makes of 25% of all Maryland wild brook trout habitat.
The restoration project included the removal of an obsolete dam on the upper Savage River. During the 2008-2010 summer seasons, biologists with Maryland DNR’s Inland Fisheries Management Division monitored water temperatures above and below the dam.
According to biologists, peak stream temperatures exceeded 75 degrees F below the impoundment, yet never exceeded 65 degrees F above the impoundment. When stream temperatures exceed 70 degrees F for extended periods, brook trout cannot survive.
The Watershed Association and partners identified the area as a restoration site as the impoundment was not only causing a thermal impact, it also blocked fish passage to a headwater reach along the main stem of the Savage River.
The project involved the engineering and implementation of a natural stream flow that bypassed the reservoir and converted it to a wetland. Natural stream design methods were used to create in-stream structures that add aquatic habitat and provide stream bank stability.
The restoration project allowed fish access to 2.5 stream miles upstream from the preexisting dam, restored natural stream features and decreased water temperatures in the stream.
The former pond area was converted to a wetland, providing wildlife habitat, water quality improvement, and flood storage. The site will serve as a demonstration for stream restoration activities and brook trout habitat improvement projects.
source: Savage River Watershed Association