Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
State completes environmental assessment for dam removal project at Jordan’s Point Park

November 13, 2018

Contact(s):

Albert Spells
(804) 829-2421 ext 2060
albert_spells@fws.gov
 


Jordan Point Dam. Credit: USFWS

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has completed its environmental assessment for removal of the dam at Jordan’s Point Park, clearing the way for work to begin as soon as all required permits are obtained and river and weather conditions allow.

The Lexington City Council  voted to proceed with the removal of the dam on the Maury River and affirmed their partnership with Game and Inland Fisheries in the interest of public safety and to restore the natural flow of the river.

Built before 1900 to power various mill operations, the obsolete dam has significant cracks and other structural problems.  City officials have been concerned about public safety surrounding the dam since a local teenager drowned there in 2006 after being swept over the dam and trapped in the recirculating current below.    

The project is supported by funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) National Fish Passage program and State Wildlife Grant program. The Service was the lead federal agency in reviewing and considering the effects of the project on historic properties in Jordan’s Point Park, a requirement under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

The Service issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) based on its review of the Environmental Assessment (EA) of the project. The FONSI outlines the determinations and findings of the environmental analysis in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  It includes information about the selection and modification of the preferred alternative, analysis of impacts, environmental commitments, and responses to public comments.

The project will remove a significant portion of the dam’s middle section, leaving a remnant on both sides of the river as well as the fish ladder for historic interpretation.  The project will also remove eight railroad piers in the active channel, leaving four piers located in the non-active channel or the floodplain on the northern side of the river.  Interpretive signage will be installed to highlight the past commercial and cultural significance of remaining structures.

To view the FONSI, EA, Memorandum of Agreement and related documents, visit http://lexingtonva.gov/gov/projects/jordans_point_dam.htm

The project will connect 1,140 miles of fish habitat on the mainstem and tributaries of the Maury River, improve habitat connectivity to the headwaters, and remove a fish-passage barrier and public safety/boating hazard.

A number of resident fishes will benefit from the project, such as the Roughhead Shiner, Smallmouth Bass, and Rock Bass.  Endangered and rare freshwater mussels will also benefit and these include the James Spinymussel, Creeper, Triangle Floater, Northern Lance, Atlantic Spike, Notched Rainbow, Yellow Lance, and Carolina Lance.

Removal of the dam will result in a shift from flatwater to free-flowing river recreational activities and a shift in fishing opportunities from reservoir species such as Largemouth Bass to riverine species such as Smallmouth Bass.   

Key next steps include obtaining required permits to proceed with the project from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Once the permits are received, Game and Inland Fisheries will seek contract bids for the work. Dam removal cannot begin, however, until favorable flow conditions are present in the river.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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