- Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014

BROWNSVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed removing a dam on the Green River near Mammoth Cave National Park.

The Daily News (http://bit.ly/1hJxATv) reports a study includes the recommendation, saying the action would improve aquatic life and recreational activities. Alternative actions include modifying the lock and not disturbing the dam, installing a barricade and disposing of the property or doing nothing.

The river has been closed to navigational traffic for decades and the study says the dams on the river have continued to deteriorate. In addition to removing Green River Dam No. 6 near Mammoth Cave, the study recommends disposing of three other dams along the river as well as Barren River Lock and Dam No. 1.

“Looking at the present condition of Lock and Dam 6, the river is really wearing away at it, and there’s a lot of water leaking through it right now,” said Vickie Carson, public information officer for Mammoth Cave National Park. “Eventually (the dam is) going to breach. If it can be taken out, that’s a much healthier way to go about it than just to let it breach.”

The federal agency is accepting comments on the proposal through March 17.

“When that period concludes, we will be making adjustments to the report based on an internal review,” said Nate Moulder, project director for the Corps of Engineers‘ Louisville District.

The study anticipates the dam removal would take about two years to complete.

“(Removal would) return approximately 17 miles of river to natural flow conditions and would have benefits to cave development,” Moulder said. “There would be a lot of ecological benefits, plus the area has seen an increase in canoers and kayakers, and removing that dam definitely removes a safety hazard in that area.”

The study also noted economic benefits.

“Presently, the canoe liveries on the Green River serve canoeists wanting primarily half-day trips,” the Corps of Engineers‘ study said. “Removal of the dam is expected to increase demand for multi-day canoe trips, leading to increased rentals and revenues for local businesses.”

It also noted benefits for aquatic species, including the endangered freshwater mussels that live in the Green River.

“There is a much more diverse mussel population in the free-flowing portion of the river,” said Bobby Carson, chief of Mammoth Cave’s Science and Resources Management Division. “Mussels are really an indicator species for the health of the river. They help tell the story of everything else in the river. … We feel like allowing more free-flowing water downstream will help us improve diversity.”

___

Information from: Daily News, http://www.bgdailynews.com