Burnt Mills Dam Removal on Lamington River

Trout Scapes recently completed the removal of an obsolete dam on the lower Lamington River in central New Jersey. The Lamington is a large tributary of the North Branch Raritan which in turn flows into the Raritan River and then into the Atlantic. This project will eventually benefit native American shad, river herring, American eels, and striped bass as well as smallmouth bass and stocked trout on a public access site owned by Raritan Headwaters Association, a local watershed organization (https://www.raritanheadwaters.org/ ). A dam has existed here or nearby since Colonial times, the original mills for which the initial dam was built were burned down by British soldiers and the grain and finished flour ransacked. The most recent version, built in 1914 for unknown reasons as no mills continued operation at that time, had fallen into bad repair and was actually breached by a series of hurricanes in the late 1950s.

The breach of the dam has caused a new channel to form and that new channel continues to erode the banks, threatening nearby Milnor Road. The removal included removal of the concrete structure, the placing of the river back into its original channel, the protection of the banks along Milnor Road, a lowering of the bank upstream of the dam to allow better floodplain access, and the creation of vernal habitat on WRP (wetland reserve program) lands adjacent to the former dam.

The dam was removed using Farm Bill and US Fish & Wildlife funds among other funding sources, and it benefits several key species of fish and wildlife that call the area home. Plantings are ongoing and will be completed in spring ’20.