Many of us share a favorite “dog days” activity of swimming in the river, but it is important to recognize that the Shepaug and other watercourses are sensitive ecosystems increasingly stressed by low flow and warm water during the months of summer.
Watercourses are very complex and dynamic environments that should not be altered solely for the sake of recreation. Building rock dams to impound water poses several immediate threats to their wildlife communities.
- Dams present a barrier to fish passage; most importantly, cold-water species seeking very limited and dispersed thermal refuges.
- Removing rocks from the riverbed displaces a multitude of aquatic insect larvae (referred to as macroinvertebrates) that live on and beneath them.
- Dams alter hydrologic processes and impair habitat. By slowing water, it warms more quickly and contains less oxygen. Dams also cause unnatural sediment deposition such that gravels and cobbles, ecologically important river substrates, becomes buried and inaccessible to wildlife.
Thank you for practicing “Leave No Trace” both on the land and in the water.