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Conservation Groups Praise Progress in Effort to Remove Lock and Dam Along Green River

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Hayley Lynch, The Nature Conservancy
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A partnership of state and federal conservation groups is celebrating the largest lock and dam removal in Kentucky history.

The removal of Green River Lock and Dam # 5 in Butler County has been in the making since 2015, with local government, environmental, and business groups pushing the effort.

A crew from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working since June at the site, using heavy equipment to slowly remove the lock chamber where boats have passed through along the Green River.

An event Monday at the site of the dam was supposed to mark the beginning of the removal of actual dam, but that was postponed due to the rainy weather. 

David Phemister is the director of the Kentucky chapter of The Nature Conservancy, one of the groups that’s advocated for the removal.

“Rivers should naturally be free-flowing, that’s when they have the best habitat for wildlife, fish, and other species. And so removing the dam will really instantly—while the work takes a while—once it’s gone, those restoration benefits, that recovery of the river happens really, really quickly.

Advocates for the dam removal say a free-flowing river will also be safer for boaters, and will lead to increased recreation and economic development opportunities.

“We’ll have a more accessible river, and that’s important for two reasons,” Phemister said. “One, the more people you can get out on the Green River, the more people you have fall in love with it, and we protect and care for what we love. Also, outdoor recreation—whether it’s hiking, bird-watching, or, in this case, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing—it’s a real economic engine, and it’s growing economic engine for Kentucky and other rural states across the country.”

Some of the other organizers on hand Monday at the event in the Butler County town of Roundhill included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and Kentucky Waterways Alliance.

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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