Dams & Barriers

Dams are found on many of Lake Champlain's tributaries.  Some still functional and some not, these structures were generally first built to generate electricity.  Older dams were built for mills.

The non-functional dams around the Basin could be removed without influencing electricity prices or harming property, restoring the natural flow and fish passage that existed before their construction.

Sometimes, sediment can back up behind the dam and must be carefully removed so that it does not rush downstream and clog fish and other aquatic species habitat.

Swanton Dam

Consequences

Dams prevent native fish like Atlantic salmon, walleye, sturgeon, and American eel from reaching their spawning habitat.  This prevents natural reproduction which causes populations to rely on stocking from our fish hatcheries.  This is neither sustainable nor healthy for fish populations and our tax dollars.  Dams can also create habitat that is more ideal for invasive species like the parasitic sea lamprey.  If the Swanton Dam was removed, for example, several Lake Champlain native fish species would be able to naturally spawn again, including the American eel which feeds on young lamprey.  More lamprey predators and less lamprey habitat means less funding needed for lamprey control.  Fewer funds would be needed for fish hatcheries, as well.  We could even see salmon runs again!  Click here to take action.