The Nature Conservancy identified grant opportunities. They found the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Lake and River Enhancement Program and the National Fish Passage Program through the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Nature Conservancy and Ecosystems Connections worked with Corydon to write the grants, which were submitted in December 2017. They received notice in January 2018 of the awards for the removal. Some of this funding was available to Corydon because of the potential hellbender habitat.
Beginning in August 2018, Ecosystems Connections Institute began sampling the health of the river and the fish present. They discovered that the area furthest upstream, the pool with the largest area, had the lowest levels of fish. They also determined that wildlife was the healthiest after a third dam further down the river, so removing the two upstream dams would provide the best impact to the ecosystem.
Ecosystems Connections Institute managed the permitting process throughout the project. Permitting can be an impediment to dam removal as the process is cumbersome and not clear-cut as it deals with multiple agencies and people. Working with partners who have gone through the process simplified the project for Corydon. All permits were acquired by July 2019.
In partnership with Ecosystems Connections Institute and The Nature Conservancy, the Town hosted a public meeting in May 2019 to inform residents of the plans for and purpose of dam removal, and to gather feedback from the community. During the meeting, there was little dissent from residents. Likely factors in the low amount of dissent were Corydon not having to pay out-of-pocket because of the grants, habitat restoration, public safety improvement, and the dams not being prominent features people saw on a day-to-day basis.
All relevant parties had approved the dam removal project by the summer of 2019. The project was scheduled for the fall when the creek would be in a lower water stage. The dam removals took place in October 2019 and took around two weeks to complete removal. A contractor was hired to do the actual removal with supervision from Ecosystems Connections Institute.
The total cost of the removals was $304,000. $95,000 was provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake and River Enhancement program. The remainder came from the US Fish and Wildlife’s Fish Passageway Program with matching funds from The Nature Conservancy. There was no financial cost to Corydon.
Corydon was approached in June of 2017 by The Nature Conservancy and the dams were removed in October 2019.