Dec 3, 2015

Wildlands Conservancy Targets Another Dam


The dams associated with this beautiful grain mill in Hellertown has been targeted by The Wildlands Conservancy. The conservancy has been in the dam demolition business now for several years. They are allowed to keep 15% of the grants received for administrative costs, which in turn they use for their salaries. The caretakers of the mill shown above have wondered aloud if the dam removal on Saucon Creek will affect the flow of water to the mill run. Although the easy answer is of course, the Wildlands will conduct a study, producing an answer which serves their needs.

It's unfortunate when organizations like the Wildlands and DEP, which are sacred cows, become so arrogant that they feel justified and entitled in whatever they do or spend. The 110 year old Wehr's Dam is an excellent example of this abuse. In 2012, the DEP reported that the dam was in overall good condition. Two years later, when the Wildlands wanted to tear it down, they spend $259,000 on a study to convince South Whitehall that the dam should go. That study concluded that it would cost $1 to $2 million dollars to repair the dam. That figure was based on a total rebuild, as if it was holding back the lake behind Hoover Dam. A director of the DEP had publicly stated that there is no reason for any mill associated dam to exist. Quite a historian. The DEP paid for the study with our tax money. That $259,000 could have kept the dam maintained for the next 110 years.

I'm proud to have started the movement to save Wehr's Dam, and glad of our success saving such a picturesque part of South Whitehall's history. I hope that kindred spirits in Saucon Valley likewise defend their dam and history,  both of which are irreplaceable.

8 comments:

spencer said...

Admittedly, I have no knoweledge of these structures, or of anything in Hellertown really...

But your description of the situation and finances regarding this reminds me of this scene from the movie Falling Down, when talking about Public works projects.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7o6NA0_5jU

Anonymous said...

Most people remember the Wehr's Dam story.

However, most forget that Wildlands was laughed out of the room over their failed attempts to take out the Chain Dam in Easton. I recall one elected official calling KCI's report on the dam as "bunk" science.

Wildlands is yet another organization where the board members never show up to the public meetings and want to stay hidden. You see the staff, sure but it's the boards that make the decisions. If people knew who served on the boards and knew how to contact them directly, I don't think you'd see some of the things you see happening.

michael molovinsky said...

the Wildlands is putting out their same old fish tales about how dams stop the fish from migrating. the president of the local fishing and sportsmen association testified at the wehr's hearings that there has always been fish and fishing above the dams. in reality, removing the dams destroys some of the best fishing holes, and makes the streams faster and shallower.

Anonymous said...

How long has the dam been in place? Over 100 years? Longer perhaps?

The fish don't remember how to migrate.

What difference does it make?

This appears to be a case of this environmental group looking to milk locl governments for money.

Leave it alone. The scenic value outweighs fish having to spawn elsewhere.

This is idiocy.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:53, to be blunt, the Wildlands has taken to outright lying to achieve these grants from harrisburg, where they apparently have a reliable contact. they generalize the science, i.e. that all dams stop fish. trout easily navigated the former robin hood dam in lehigh parkway, which was only 10 inches high. at wehr's, they omitted the fact that the jordan isn't a cold water trout stream. more importantly, they omitted the fact that it is a disappearing stream, where the dam actually helps maintain the water level and fish population during dry periods. KCI's conclusion are apparently for sale. they also recruit local college professors to testify, with no knowledge of the specific site involved. it's always the same dog and pony show; hopefully, saucon valley has someone willing to defend their history.

Dreaming of Justice said...

The people in Hellertown are complacent; they will do nothing to save a dam. We had to fight tooth and nail, show for meetings, defend our position in the press, launch petitions...

michael molovinsky said...

dreaming @10:25, another problem with an old sacred cow like Wildlands is that several members are in position of power in that saucon. in south whitehall, the park and recreation director himself favors demolishing the dam, and his father is one the wildlands' paid directors. the wildlands, and some officials and even some commissioners of SWT, still hope to demolish wehr's dam. that battle will have to fought again and again, until which time the dam is placed onto their historic overlay district.

Anonymous said...

Years Ago the Wildlands Conservancy was a worthy organization. It has outrun its usefulness so to protect jobs and nice housing, employees now must be creative thinkers. If Hellertown residents don't attend council meetings and insist this project be voted down, in the future they will miss this beautiful dam and say, "If only." When the Lights project first was initiated in Lehigh Parkway folks contacted the Wildlands and begged them to protest the cutting of trees; the installation of electric poles and in ground outlets and black thick wires that now cover the meadows not to mention the destruction of an iconic 100 year old iron bridge, but the Wildlands group remained silent. They lost the respect of many in the community and their current actions only exacerbate that loss.