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For Release: Friday, January 9, 2015

DEC Shares Draft Plan to Modify Imperial Dam

A draft plan to modify the Imperial Dam on the Saranac River is available for public review, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Bob Stegemann announced today. The plan protects human health, private property and public infrastructure while improving natural habitat for aquatic and wetlands species.

"DEC is seeking to inform the public and gather input on the preliminary plan addressing the Imperial Dam's safety issues," said Director Stegemann. "DEC's plan will protect people that live, work and travel downstream of the dam. The proposal will also provide access to nine miles of upstream habitat for salmon and trout, while continuing to serve as a barrier to breeding sea lamprey."

A public availability session on the preliminary plan will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 21 at the Town of Plattsburgh Town Hall at 151 Banker Road. Staff from DEC and its consulting firm will present information on the preliminary plan for the dam and the process for moving the project forward. DEC will also answer questions and accept comments from the public. The meeting facility is wheelchair accessible. Please provide any requests for specific accommodation in advance to DEC at 518-897-1248.

"I am exceptionally pleased at this long-awaited news," said Derrick Miller, President of the Lake Champlain Chapter of Trout Unlimited. "Our members and many people throughout the North Country are delighted that the historic Atlantic salmon spawning habitat in the Saranac River will be restored. This is great news for conservationists and anglers alike."

The preliminary design for the dam modification includes decreasing the height of the spillway by 8.5 feet and constructing a concrete fish ladder on the left bank (northern side) of the dam. Work will require permits and other approvals, including an Army Corps of Engineers Permit, a DEC wetlands permit and a DEC water quality certification.

The proposed project will increase the dam's spillway capacity and bring it into compliance with dam safety regulations. The lowered spillway will achieve the required spillway capacity of 45,650 cubic feet per second.

The fish ladder will allow landlocked salmon and trout access to nine miles of the Saranac River upstream of the dam providing a significant increase in spawning habitat for these species and enhance efforts to restore the Lake Champlain fishery. The fish ladder is designed to prevent lamprey from moving upstream.

The plan involves dredging 91,600 cubic yards of material behind the dam to prevent those sediments from being washed downstream and into Lake Champlain. Dredging will create a 200-foot wide channel following the existing river channel approximately 3,800 feet upstream from the face of the dam.

Comments may be mailed to DEC Regional Fishery Manager Lance Durfey, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977; or e-mailed to Comments should be submitted by COB Friday, February 6, 2015.

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