ORF Executive Director Discusses Benefits of Dam Removal in Kentucky Lantern Interview

By Jacalyn Carfagno – Kentucky Lantern/WKMS

Rich Cogen, ORF Executive Director surveys the Long Lick Run Chapeze Lane Dam located south of Louisville with Andrew Berry, Director Of Conservation, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. ORF is working to remove the dam in 2024.

In the early years of this nation and state, settlers built small dams on rivers and streams to capture waterpower for mills, enable navigation and assure a water supply. In the middle part of the last century even more were built as government agencies tried to bring waterways under control.

Today, thousands of those dams remain although new power sources and transportation methods, among other societal changes, have made most of them obsolete. Worse, almost all of them present a threat to humans and the aquatic environment.

In Kentucky alone, there are probably more than 1,000 of what are called low head dams — structures spanning a waterway that range in height from as little as one foot to about 15 feet.

Like many historic structures, they can be scenic. There’s still water, like a pond, above the dam and, below, spillways that look like horizontal waterfalls. But, unlike aging courthouses and elegant mansions, low head dams disrupt aquatic species and degrade our environment. And they kill people.

>>>Read the interview in its entirety on KentuckyLantern.com

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