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Lost Man Creek Dam facts for kids

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Lost Man Creek Dam is located inside the Redwood National and State Parks, Humboldt Meridian, in Humboldt County, California. The dam is positioned 0.8 miles (1.3 km) upstream from the confluence of Lost Man Creek with Prairie Creek, and is 24 feet (7.3 m) in length with a width of 75 feet (23 m). The dam extends back southwards 100 feet (30 m).


In 1936, a dam was built in the upper limits of the Lost Man Creek; the dam was named Upper Dam on Lost Man Creek. This dam was solely built to provide water to the nearby hatchery, the Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery. The Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery was built in 1927 at the junction of Prairie Creek and Lost Man Creek to stimulate the growth of cutthroat, chinook, and silverside fish. 12 inches (30 cm) wide pipeline travels 3,000 feet (910 m) to connect the hatchery and the Upper Dam. 19 years later the Upper Dam was abandoned and left there. This dam created a barrier for the chinook salmon's migration. The reason for this being that fish need a good flow stream and a dip in the water to gain momentum and hurdle over to the top of the stream; the stream flow that the upper dam provided was very light and there was no dip to help them gain momentum; eventually all the fish got stuck at the bottom of the dam. In 1989, the Redwood National Park decided to remove the dam entirely. Much of the clean up consisted of removing fish ladders, filling the dam with sediment, and filling drying out the pond behind it, which could hold 800 feet (240 m) of water. Due to flooding from 1971- 1972 much of the pipe line connecting the hatchery and the dam was lost. To take its place the Lower Dam on Lost Man Creek was built. Its only job is to divert water that comes from the Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery. As the upper dam was being removed proposals to remove the lower dam were already in place; but there was fear as to what would happen if it was removed and how quickly. The proposed ideas were to demolish the dam within one season, the second option was to demolish the dam over the course of six seasons. The last two options were taking it apart a slowly remove part of it over one season and leave it as it. These options all had scientific uncertainty most with how the wild life will react and how will sediment inflow effect vegetation. In the end it was left as is.

Legal issues

National Parks are purposed for keeping and or restoring a habitat to resemble a point in time where humans had very little impact on the environment. Since the Redwood Forest is a national park, there is controversial debate on whether or not to remove the dam. The legal issues fall upon water rights, air rights, and structural design. If the dam were to be removed, permits from the Department of Army, Department of Fish and Game, Stream Bed Alteration agreement permit, and a Regional Water Quality Control Board Waste Charge permit would all be needed. Before any of these can be acquired, the National Park must get permission from the state of California and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for permission to alter an environment.

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