LOUDONDALE, W.Va. — A stream restoration project designed to improve fishing and recreation at Kanawha State Forest near Charleston, West Virginia, has been completed, according to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.
Started in 2020, the project was a significant undertaking and included the removal of the Davis Creek Dam, which was built in the 1930s. By removing the fishing pond, the stream has been restored to its natural state.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's In-Lieu Fee Program funded the restoration efforts at an estimated cost of $1 million.
"As a lifelong angler, I can tell you that today is a great day for Kanawha State Forest,” Justice said.
“What we've done here is truly remarkable. We've removed the dam and restored this stream to its natural state, and now we've got a fantastic new fishing spot for all of our people to enjoy.”
As part of the project, structures were added to stabilize stream banks and provide additional aquatic habitat and fishing opportunities. By removing a pond, the length of fishable water has been increased from about 1,000 feet to more than one mile. These changes create pool habitat and will allow the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to begin stocking trout.
Brett McMillion, director of the Division of Natural Resources, said he was enthused about the governor's continued efforts to increase fishing in the Mountain State.
“I want to thank Gov. Justice for his ongoing commitment to improving our state parks and forests, and making our streams some of the best places in the world to go fishing,” McMillion said.
"This project is one more example of the work we’re doing to restore streams to their natural state while also providing additional opportunities for anglers to enjoy. We're thrilled to see this type of investment in our natural resources and are proud to partner with the WVDEP and Kanawha State Forest to make it happen."
Before the project’s completion, the area had only one fishing pier, which limited fishing opportunities. Now, there are two ADA-accessible fishing piers and more than one mile of fishable water, which maintains the area's class Q fishery status and gives anglers better access to recreational opportunities in the area. Each pier also has a designated parking area to accommodate more people.
James Bailey, Secretary of the W.Va. Department of Commerce, said he's thankful to see another cooperative effort that increased commerce in the state.
"It’s days like this that we get to see what we can accomplish when we work together to improve our state's natural resources and economy,” Bailey said.
“By investing in our parks and recreation areas, we're creating more opportunities for West Virginians to enjoy the outdoors and building the kinds of attractions that get people excited about visiting our state. I'm thrilled to see the completion of this project and look forward to the benefits it will bring to the area and to West Virginia."
The Davis Creek Dam had been listed on the Register of Historic Places. Completed by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1940, the dam was a 100-foot-long, 10-foot-high obstruction across Davis Creek and created an impoundment that was the first public, natural swimming pool in the Greater Kanawha Valley.
The WVDEP In-Lieu Fee Program will be required to monitor the site for the next seven years and conduct any maintenance on the stream channel to ensure its ongoing stability.
Sign up to receive a FREE copy of West Virginia Explorer Magazine in your email weekly. Sign me up!