CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife says a river closure on the Arkansas River was lifted last week following the completion of a dam removal project.
On Thursday, crews finished work on the removal of a low-head dam that is about 1.5 miles upstream from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Mount Shavano State Fish Hatchery.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, this low-head dam was first built in 1956 in order to collect water for the downstream hatchery, the dam was then rebuilt in 1987 with a boat chute.
The Arkansas River was closed by CPW to instream recreation from Chaffee County Road 166 Bridge to the Salida Boat Ramp.
“We are happy to announce the river is open again, weeks sooner than expected, to instream recreation,” Arkansas Headwaters Park Manager, Tom Waters said. “The closure and mandatory portage signs have been removed and the buoy line barrier across the river has been taken down.”
The dam was removed in order to restore fish movements and genetic diversity in the Arkansas River, as well as improve river safety for water recreators. Water would often rush over the dam churning downstream below, creating a hydraulic trap that has taken the lives of three people since 2010 according to CPW.
CPW stopped using the dam to acquire hatchery supply water after whirling disease was detected in the Arkansas River back in 2000. Following this discovery of whirling disease Mount Shavano was converted to clean spring water after a $1.5 million project.
The dam removal project costs a total of $1.1 million, CPW says that the Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners provided $100,000 to help with the project.
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