top of page

Columbia Dam Removal


Project Purpose:

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is working in partnership with American Rivers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to remove the Columbia Dam on the Paulins Kill River.


This project will result in heathier populations of migratory fish including American shad, river herring, sea lamprey and American eel; improved in-stream habitat for resident fish and macroinvertebrates (including freshwater mussels); and improved water quality in the former impoundment. It will also eliminate the public safety risk posed by the presence of the dam and increase access to recreational opportunities including angling and paddling.


Brief Description:


We are seeking support for the construction phase of the Columbia Dam removal project. Specific activities include dewatering, dam demolition, sediment management, installation of bridge scour protection, floodplain restoration and in-stream habitat enhancement, and construction of access paths for recreation. The design phase is complete and TNC has submitted all permits.  We anticipate that all necessary approvals will be in-hand by Fall 2017.


Resource Values/Project Outputs:


This project will remove the Columbia Dam and a downstream remnant dam in an effort to restore and reconnect habitat for diadromous fish species including American shad (Alosa sapidissima), blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis), alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), American eel (Anguilla rostrata) and native sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), and to restore 32 acres of floodplain habitat currently inundated by the Columbia Dam. Removal of these dams is part of a larger effort to restore the lower Paulins Kill.


Removal of the Columbia Dam and remnant will open 20 miles of streams in the Paulins Kill watershed (11 miles of mainstem + 9 miles of tributaries) to migratory fish and restore degraded in-stream habitat in the 1.5 mile impoundment upstream of the Columbia Dam. (The next upstream barrier, Paulina Dam, is under study for removal and will open an additional 5.5 miles when removed). Our effort also includes restoration and revegetation of approximately 32 acres of floodplain inundated by the dam.









We expect the project to begin in Fall 2017



Permit Status:


Applied for


List of Partners:

  • The Nature Conservancy

  • American Rivers

  • NJ F&W

  • USF&W

  • Trout Unlimited

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service



What is requested from the CWRP/Contribution:




Point of Contact: 


Beth Styler Barry

River Restoration Manager

The Nature Conservancy

(908) 955-0364

bottom of page