Sam Farr: Celebrating restoration of the Carmel River
|August 15, 2015 - Congressman Sam Farr reports on the progress of the Carmel River restoration. The project will open up 25 miles of prime habitat for the threatened South-Central California Coast Steelhead. -|
Crews work on the San Clemente Dam removal project on Aug. 4. (Vern Fisher - Monterey Herald)
It is a historic moment for the Carmel River. The San Clemente Dam, which has blocked migrating fish since 1921, is coming down as I write this. For the first time in our lives, 25 miles of spawning and rearing habitat will be open to the threatened South-Central California Coast Steelhead.
This winter, when flows hopefully return to the riverbed, researchers and biologists will be standing by to see how the steelhead and other species respond to the newly restored habitat. This landmark event in the effort to bring new life to the Carmel River did not come without a remarkable level of coordination and cooperation from various levels of government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations, such as the Carmel River Steelhead Association, Carmel River Watershed Conservancy and the Planning and Conservation League.
The Carmel River is a beautiful natural resource. I grew up fishing and swimming in its many pools and backwaters. In all my years of public service, protecting the stunning environment of the Monterey Peninsula has been a top priority. The San Clemente Dam no longer brings water to the area or protects us from flooding. Instead it posed a safety hazard for our community and was a major obstacle to fish migration. Removing this obsolete dam was a true win-win from its inception.
And the benefits of this project will be felt beyond the riverís banks. In addition to bringing down the dam, 928 acres of watershed around the dam will now be overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.
This will be public land, protected in perpetuity for generations of Californians to enjoy.
A project this big was truly a team effort. Iím proud to have worked with a partnership that includes California American Water, the California State Coastal Conservancy, NOAA Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Wildlife Conservation Board, Resources Legacy Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Officials at the local, state and federal level worked with the community to make this complex project a reality, the benefits of which will soon be apparent to us all.
The public-private partnership assembled for this project ensured its success. A comprehensive study found that 9 out 10 public works projects worldwide come in over budget by an average of nearly 30 percent. I am pleased to say that due to efficient planning and execution, this project was completed on time and on budget.
A live webcam is set up to view the demolition at www.sanclementedamremoval.org. I encourage everyone to view it and take a moment to celebrate the restoration of a river that has been the lifeblood of our community since its inception. Itís a remarkable sight.
I am excited to see the Carmel River revert back to its natural state. When the project is finished, it will be like the dam was never there. I look forward to exploring this ďnewĒ river with my grandchildren as the Carmel River returns to its former glory.
Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, represents District 20 in the House of Representatives.
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