Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, So, What’s the Point?

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

So, what’s the point of removing an eight to ten foot tall 175 year old dam near the mouth of a creek and not making fish migrations up the creek as easy as possible on the fish?

This isn’t happening on the new and improved Blackberry Creek. I’ve been harping on this subject since I’ve seen them put in riffles that make no sense and not taking the old dam down about another foot.

If you take the time to go through some of these posts you’ll see a number of those comments.

To get this gripe session out of the way, it starts with riffle #1. I can’t think of one logical reason why this is built the way it is.

It’s too high, there’s no need to have those wing dams on the side in order to increase the water velocity. If you look at the pictures on the post I made with flood pictures in it, this area looked like a whitewater park. There’s no need for that. From this spot to the base of the now gone dam is about 500 yards. In that distance the creek bed drops around eight feet. That’s plenty of velocity. Plus, I can’t imagine this makes this riffle any more convenient for fish passage.

The same goes for riffle #2.

A half hour on each riffle and those wing dams could be pulled off to the side and the height of them taken down a foot or two.

At the dam, it should have been taken down another foot. It should not look like this.

In another post I suggest filling the old scour hole below the dam with rock till it comes up to the same level as the base of the dam. I don’t want to hear about how they’re unwilling to do this. In the last few days they’ve already dumped a lot of rock in here up against the bridge abutment.

What’s the big deal to extend that out further, it doesn’t even have to be that high. Just enough to get rid of the mini waterfall that’s been created and to make fish passage that much easier. Just this past week I was fishing in this spot. Why not make things easier for fish like this…

They changed the course of Blackberry Creek again in order to fix the damage done by the floods and to finally get the coffer dam out of there. I’ll bet they’re done by the end of the week with the weather the way it is.

This killed the fishing in the pool below the old dam. Eight missed little hits and three little things barely worth reeling in.

Did finally get to see the ever elusive gar. I’ve heard that they dwell in the stretch from Yorkville all the way down. I’ve assumed some of the porpoising I’ve seen over the years were them, it’s different than carp, but never could verify that.

Saw a school of a half dozen gar cruising around the pool. Maybe that’s why all the other fish went away. I have no clue what gar snack on. Beautiful fish though. Two of them were well over three feet long.

In another recent post I put up a summary of the amount of time I’ve spent on the Fox River over the past 18 years…

This year marks my 18th year of fishing the Fox River and it’s creeks.

On the low side I estimate I’ve made a little over 1,300 trips out to the river or one of it’s creeks.

Each wading trip consisted of at least two miles for an estimate of 2,600 miles. Since I also have to walk the shores to get to where I want to wade, that’s another 2,600 miles walking along their banks. I know both those numbers are actually higher.

Add to this the amount of time I’ve spent canoeing, wandering along the river just for the stroll or simply sitting on the bank watching the water flow. I may not have a wide variety of degrees to justify my opinion on how the creek has been screwed up, but I do know one thing, I know how rivers and creeks work and look and what’s been done to Blackberry Creek completely misses the mark.

Okay, done with that. I think I’m going to track down the engineering firm responsible for this project and send them a link to this post. Somebody has to listen sooner or later.

With the dry weather and the creek flow back to normal, they’ve shut down the creek again so they can finish off the work and repair all the damage done by the flood.

All the water is again being squeezed through the bypass.

Upstream at the coffer dam the hole has been plugged.

The massive washout caused by the flood has been filled.

A lot of what was left behind the coffer dam and in the creek has been removed and the shores are getting rebuilt with rock.

I wish I could be there the day they yank the coffer dam. Then it’s a sure sign that things are pretty much done.

I’m hoping they do a pretty thorough clean up inspection. I’m starting to get the feeling that a big steel plate lying on the creek bed just above riffle #1 has been forgotten about. It’s still sitting buried in the water.

And of course I guess I should mention the other reason for this project, the rebuilding of the bridge. This past week has seen quite a bit of progress made…

I’ll probably take more pictures of the bridge as it gets worked on, but I won’t talk about it much.

Frankly, I wish they wouldn’t bother with it. I like things the way they are and the lack of car traffic through here is no great loss.

9 thoughts on “Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, So, What’s the Point?

  1. Howard Levett

    Certainly you aren’t the only one who is noticing that things aren’t quite what they should or could be? Perhaps someone with a degree or two will chime in and let the powers that be know or maybe even an angry blogger!

    1. Ken G Post author

      I have no clue who’s reading this Howard. I know some people with better connections than me get notices of these posts. I can only hope it gets passed on. I’ve been known to be a pain in the past and I’ve let that die down a bit. Time to resurrect the even more annoying Ken perhaps.

    2. John Dailey

      I suppose it doesn’t seem like much if River Road wasn’t repaired at all, but think of it this way…..all those folks that live down that way, would either use Eldemain Road to cut over to rt. 34 or drive clear down to the 5 mile bridge and cut back, either on Fox Road or thru Plano. Not too convenient, is it? Should we just let those folks hang, just because you don’t want the road fixed (which is, after all, the reason for all this in the first place).

      Now, I’m predicating my reply from memories of how things were back in the 70s. If any new roadways have been put in place since then, my rant makes no sense.

      BTW, when I was in high school, we ran out to the PNA camp and back for track practice and I can remember once, in the early 60s, when River Road washed out at exactly the same place.

      1. Ken G Post author

        It’s the few residents that live down that way that I ran into that don’t seem to mind one way or the other if the bridge ever gets rebuilt. Can’t blame them really, 5,000 fewer cars. I’d like that.

        My wife is from Aurora, she likes to tell me stories of what this area was like 40 years ago. You want to hear somebody bitch about traffic, just bring it up. Gets pretty funny.

  2. Kirk @ River Mud

    Ken, not sure this is the case, but there’s a relatively new “permit condition” for stream restoration projects permitted through USACE that specifies that certain velocities must be maintained either seasonally or all year round. The point is that without those flows, fish passage might be non-existent. However, this language is forcing redesign that is really not great engineering (like those spur dams you mentioned in the first few pictures).

    Another thing is that, per the permit conditions, these things have to be built first and foremost to withstand incredible storm flows. That’s why everything is wall to wall rock. Engineers don’t want USACE or the state agency coming down on them 2, 3, 5 years later when some wayward hurricane or storm front moves a bunch of rocks.

    1. Ken G Post author

      I’ve read some on the permit conditions, but my beef with that is that the stream velocities should match what occurs naturally not only on this creek, but similar ones in the area. I fish quite a few of them many miles inland and the fish don’t seem to have a problem getting there. With the gradient of this creek in particular, what they’ve built seems like overkill.

      One thing I think is funny is that a lot of trouble is gone through to prevent the sediment from behind the dam to go down stream, and yet the latest flood did a pretty good job of tearing out a big chunk of dirt and sending it downstream. The river will absorb it. I’ll bet there’s some new gravel bars and bigger islands a bit down stream of the mouth.


    This almost reminds me of how they did the Hoffman Dam. They removed the main chunk of the dam first and then started working on all of the new bank/structure. When all that was done, they finally leveled off the river bed which then leveled the water instead of having a step down.

    1. Ken G Post author

      I’m not convinced they’re going to do much more Nick. The work is going on at the bridge and I thought the plan was to remove that bypass culvert. Would be nice to see these steps go away.

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