A Long Time Coming

dam removal picturecopy 2EAST BURKE- It's been seventeen years in the making. The Connecticut River Conservancy and Passumpsic Valley Land Trust have finally begun construction tearing down the East Burke Dam.

 The construction on the dam started early last week, with workers starting at one corner of the dam and working their way down.

"We brought one corner of the dam down to the lower the water," said Conecticut River Conservancy Steward Ron Rhodes.

"We did this so we can expose the sediment that's been trapped upstream. We're mostly concerned with sediment removal right now."

1958 is when the dam stopped being used, and roughly eleven thousand cubic yards of sediment have been trapped upstream since then.

Sediment removal was what was holding up the project to begin with. Before any construction occurred, the two companies needed the blessing of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to begin the project. The DEC put off the project, until the Passumpsic Valley Land Trust was able to make clear what their plan was to remove built up sediment.

The removal is expected to take four to six weeks. To workers like Rhodes, it's the benefits that come with dam removals that he really appreciates.

"You get that instant gratification feeling. Once the dam is gone, you get all the immediate benefits. You get fish passage, the sediment can transfer downstream, you get all the environmental benefits immediately.

When asked with what the feeling is like after a dam removal is done, Rhodes said "They're fun, rewarding projects. This one has taken much longer for various reasons, but it's finally happening.