Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Dam Free Finally and Work to be Done

To play catch up, you can read the past progress reports here.

This is a long one, you’ve been forewarned.

This Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update is the beginning of the end of my weekly updates. I have one more to put together about the flooding that is currently occurring all around the area, but to continue these on a weekly basis no longer makes sense. Primarily because what I wanted accomplished is done, the dam is gone and the creek is once again flowing.

I know the replacing of the bridge is important, but I kind of like it this way. I can’t imagine that the few people that live down this long road care. Five thousand fewer cars now come through here, they’re all just avoiding traffic on Route 34 anyway. Too bad for them. No more drag racing down this road, I can hear that happening from the other side of the river. I hear the people that live down this stretch are using the road as a bike and walking path. You can’t beat that. I say leave the bridge out.

I had stopped at the creek earlier last week primarily to go fishing for about a half hour. I did well for such a short time and you can read about that here.

Of course I had to take a few photos of the work that had been accomplished. We had been getting some rain and I was concerned that would delay any further work, but further upstream they had put in the rock for the third set of riffles.

Notice all the mud on the creek bed. That will come up again later.

The fish caught were all in this pool below the former dam, like they were staging here patiently waiting for flowing water again.

Saturday when the dam was gone and the creek was flowing there were even more fish. Only, mostly carp. This is the time of year when carp and suckers make a spawning run up the creeks. They were in pretty thick.

It was good to see the water no longer flowing through the bypass channel.

Sunday I got out to document the full length of all the work. There are some things that have been done that I think should be modified a bit. I’m no engineer, but one of the things I’ve done a lot of over the last 17 years is spend countless hours walking around in rivers and creeks. I like to think I’m a pretty good observer. One of the things I do know is that a free flowing creek should look like this.

One of the things I’ve been questioning right from the start is the installation of riffles. The riffles themselves I have no problem with, it’s how they’ve been constructed. There is no reason in the world why they should look like this first set of riffles.

The rocks in the foreground look almost natural, further back they don’t. There’s no reason to neck down the creek likes this or to have the rocks that much higher. The same goes for the second set of riffles.

This narrowing of the channel is completely unnecessary. I hear this is done to increase water velocity, but this section of the creek doesn’t need that. From the first set of riffles to the base of the now removed dam the creek bed drops almost eight feet in a length of about 500 yards. That’s a steep enough drop and the current will flow through at a pretty good pace on it’s own.

The third set of riffles aren’t as bad. This is just upstream of the third set. They look like riffles should look like.

Then you come across these.

Man has this incessant need to put things in straight lines. There are no straight lines in nature. At least they didn’t narrow down the creek with more rock and this one isn’t that tall. I would think it would be easy to go down there with one of the buckets and move these around. Get rid of the straight line and lower the height a bit. If they don’t do it, I will. I know I’ll be down there at low water throwing those rocks around till it looks the way I think it should look.

You’ll also notice in the two pictures above that all the mud is gone. Creeks tend to cleanse themselves.

I also think they should have gone down another foot or so when they took out the dam.

As I stood here watching, I saw a few carp swim up this spot and continue on upstream. I’m assuming other species are doing the same. I’ve seen this on all the creeks I’ve fished that feed the Fox.

The problem is, this is at slightly high water and there is a decent flow of water going over the old dam site. During the summer the lip of the old dam will be more like a small waterfall. Anything wanting to get upstream is going to have to jump. Why not make it easier on them. Take a couple of buckets of all those rocks and dump them in the old scour hole created by the dam. Dump in enough of them to bring the rock up to the level of the old dam. Fish would find that much easier to navigate rather than jumping.

If that doesn’t get done, I’ll be doing it myself. Every time I come here I’ll wander along the shore, picking up rocks and dumping them into that hole till I get the depth I think it needs. This will probably take quite some time to accomplish, but I have time and I know I’ll be fishing here enough.

Right now the channel does look little sterile, but all new construction tends to look like that.

Time will have grasses and trees growing along the banks. Water tends to even move rocks around and some of those will start making their way further out into the creek. They might even get a little help from me whenever I walk along here.

In the parking lot by the pond is a pile of boulders.

All over the Fox River and in all of it’s creeks, I find boulders like this sitting out in the current. I call them my sitting rocks. They’re remains of when the glaciers receded from this area and left them laying around. I take advantage of them when I come across them. The perfect spot to sit and take in my surroundings. If they aren’t going to do anything with these, they should consider scattering them out in the creek. I know I would take advantage of the opportunity to sit a spell out in the middle of the creek.

There’s still a lot of work to be done around the site. The whole area looks pretty well destroyed.

The original plans call for a lot of plantings to be put in place. The grasses will soften things up quickly, but it will take many years for the trees to establish themselves through here. I’m going to enjoy documenting the progress over the next couple of years.

The creek still needs some work. The coffer dam is still in place.

In order to get the creek flowing again, all they did was move a big steel plate out of the way a little and take out some of the dirt.

I’m sure the plan was to get this out of here as quickly as possible and rebuild these shorelines, but the rain kept screwing that up. In my next post I’ll show how the recent flooding has made this worse.

Back at the pond, things are getting back to normal. The pond is back up to normal levels again.

I met a couple that lives in one of the houses on the hill overlooking this area. I didn’t write down their names, so, of course, I’ve forgotten them. The couple was concerned that all the turtles have died off. A big snapping turtle used to walk up the hill to lay eggs by their house. I did see a good sized snapping turtle in the area and other turtles are still coming out to sun themselves.

Last but not least are found objects. Not much left, but I still come across an occasional curiosity.

This is the fourth doorknob set I’ve found along the creek. Somebody living at the top of that hill did a lot of renovating in the past.

6 thoughts on “Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Dam Free Finally and Work to be Done

  1. RK Henderson

    Exciting project! Don’t worry too much about the way the amendments and the bank look; in a few years it’ll all look natural. (Unless of course they get in there and “maintain” the rockwork.)

    I envy your turtles. We have very few of those here on the North Coast.

    Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

    1. Ken G Post author

      They did a similar project on another nearby creek Robin. As far as I can tell they’ve done nothing to maintain it. Over the last decade the water knocked down and smoothed out similar riffles, with a little help from me. The shores don’t look too bad either.

      I may have to do a little of the maintenance I’ve mentioned. Just to speed things up a bit.

      No matter how hard I try, I can’t sneak up on a turtle. They must have eyes in the backs of their heads.

  2. howard levett

    I can imagine what this area will look like in a year. It’s a beautiful area and will be more so after all the crap is removed. If you are going to be moving rock around please do a video!

    1. Ken G Post author

      It is a beautiful area Howard. Just upstream is pretty wild looking.

      Video… then, when I throw out my back moving those rocks, you’ll get to hear my imaginative use of every curse word known to man. In amazing combinations. Why do you think I only take pictures as it is…

    1. Ken G Post author

      Did all the photo documentation on Thursday Dan. Will get it up soon. One of the photos of the first set of riffles supports the suggestion I make in knocking it down and back. It seems to cause a problem. At least in my muddled view of things.

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