Jul 8, 2014

The Biology and History Of Wehr Dam

The Wildlands Conservancy is fond of telling municipalities that mill dams create warm water above them, and serve no purpose. Also obsolete, by modern design, in Wehr Dam Park, now know as Covered Bridge Park, is the covered bridge. A recent writer to The Morning Call noted the beauty of the water flowing over the dam and under the bridge. The Wildlands Conservancy has said that the dam has no aesthetic value, but they're also wrong even about the biology. Not far downstream from the dam, the creek disappears into it's limestone bed during dry periods. This natural disappearing stream phenomenon makes the dam a moot point in regard to upstream fish migration. What we're left with then is extraordinary beauty and history,  that needs to be preserved. Since mill dams and wooden covered bridges are obsolete, and they're not making any more of them, let's defend this irreplaceable legacy with which we were entrusted.
photograph by K Mary Hess

4 comments:

S_Alderfer said...

You're a local history expert, and that's much appreciated. It's also clear that you loathe the Wildlands Conservancy. Their job is based on science. Your niche is history. So as a hydrogeologist, I must point out that your conclusion that the purpose of the Wehr's dam removal is moot based on the stream disappearing into the bedrock during dry periods is not valid. Fish are not likely to be migrating during the summer months when the base flow in the stream drops below the bedrock elevation. Therefore, removing the dam could very well permit fish movement during the times of the year when they would be most likely to move up- and downstream. I'm not a biologist, so I can't comment on when fish in the Jordan Creek would be most likely to migrate. There may be reasons based on hydrology that would bring into question the proposed dam removal. But South Whitehall only authorized Wildlands to do a study to determine whether the dam removal was feasible. If there are issues with the overall gradient of the stream reach above and below the dam, as Mike Siegel pointed out in a comment on one of your previous posts about the proposed dam removal, that info should be identified in the Wildlands' feasibility study. Hopefully, the township will make their final decision on removal of the dam based on actual science and not assumptions.

michael molovinsky said...

s alderfer@7:45, the wildlands may have started on science, but now they're grant seekers, who use a percentage of those grants for their salaries. they have become so arrogant that they told allentown city council that they performed scour studies on the robin hood bridge piers, when they did not. they then covered themselves by placing the broken dam rubble around the bridge piers, which is what they would do at wehr; from beauty to ugly, saving the cost of concrete disposal. frankly, in a public park which is centered on the history of the jordan creek, the wildlands should have been told no thank you a month ago.

Michael Siegel said...

Remove the gabion walls, not the dam. That option was presented in this report in Jordan Creek Conservation Plan in 2000 completed by the Wildlands Conservancy. Any other feasibility study done by the Conservancy now will contradict the results of this report presented to the DCNR, municipalities and public. The fact that the dam was highlighted as a prized recreational value structure and pictured in this report begs the question on why the hell does the Wildlands Conservancy want to remove such as highly prized recreational and aesthetic structure that may in fact be considered a national historic structure. Whats the hurry and why remove this structure when many people have wedding and other pictures taken in front of it? SWT readers, why are YOU allowing the Wildlands Conservancy dictate removal of your history and your recreational structure? This dam is not critical to the riparian areas of this section of the Jordan Creek. WILDLANDS CONSERVANCY CONCENTRATE ON REMOVING THE GABION WALLS AND KERNSVILLE DAM WHERE THE RIPARIAN AREAS CAN BE RESTORED.

Anonymous said...

What's the hurry and why remove the structure?

I think it's clear that there are now grants available now that weren't available then. So the Wildlands group has millions of reasons to push this idiocy on local municipalities.

You have to pay those admin salaries somehow.