State: West Virginia
Water bodies affected: West Fork River
Removal of the West Milford Dam will enhance and restore the connectivity and aquatic integrity of 15 miles of the West Fork River. There are 54 species of fish and 15 species of mussels that will be benefited by the return of the river to a cold water, riffle – pool complex.
A system of dams constructed on the West Fork River has resulted in fragmentation of habitat, altered flows, and human health and safety hazards. These dams are approximately 12 miles apart, range in height from 8-14 feet, and have contributed to three drowning incidents in recent years.
The West Fork supports a diverse assemblage of mussels and fish including 2 federally listed and 13 state listed species. Mussel diversity has decreased from 20 species in 1911 to 5 species in 2005. The river is still an important recreational fishery to the public for warm and coolwater fish species such as bass, walleye, sauger and muskellunge and also provides waterfowl hunting opportunities to the public. This dam removal project will support the recovery of the Clubshell and the Northern Riffleshell and when combined with 4 additional proposed projects will open 964 miles of stream and tributary to fish passage.