- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - The removal of the first of three Clarksburg Water Board dams on the West Fork River is set to start next week, officials said.

A contractor will start moving in heavy equipment Monday at the West Milford Dam, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coordinator Callie McMunigal told The Exponent Telegram (http://bit.ly/1nV8Z5c ).

McMunigal said the dam’s removal should take about three weeks, at which time workers will then proceed to remove the Two-Lick Dam, followed by the Highland Dam.

The water board voted 2-1 last March to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners to remove the structures.

The board wants to rid itself of liability and maintenance costs associated with the dams, while Fish and Wildlife wants to restore the West Fork to its natural state and improve fish habitat.

Hartland Dam will remain in place, as the pool above that structure is where the board draws water to treat for public consumption.

The removal of the dams has been met with some resistance, including from board President Paul Howe, who considers the decision an overreach by the federal government.

“It has nothing to do with health and safety,” said Howe. “It’s the federal government wanting to control our waterways. There are historical values to these dams.”

McMunigal said she thinks some people’s attitudes will change once the project is completed.

“I think in the long run people will be happy with the restored river,” McMunigal said. “It will be a cleaner river when we get the litter out, and it’ll be a healthier river for fish-and-wildlife people who use it as a resource.”

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Information from: The Exponent Telegram, http://www.theet.com

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