Scene along the Upatoi Creek watershed, where TNC-GA is conducing dam removals.
Upatoi Creek watershed Scene along the Upatoi Creek watershed, where TNC-GA is conducing dam removals. © Chelsea Corbin/The Nature Conservancy

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Dam Removal Project Underway in Columbus Georgia

Columbus, GA

  • Marlena Reed
    Communications & Marketing Manager
    Nature Conservancy
    Phone: +1 404-253-7246

  • Sara Gottlieb
    Director, Freshwater Science & Strategy
    The Nature Conservancy
    Phone: 404-873-6946

As part of The Nature Conservancy's efforts to improve habitat for Georgia's highly biodiverse freshwater communities of fish, mussels, and amphibians, it is working to remove several dams and restore streams on TNC-owned lands on the Chattahoochee Fall Line. Columbus State University’s Earth and Space Sciences Department (CSU) recently began a partnership on a stream restoration project in the Upatoi Creek watershed near Ft. Benning

CSU students and faculty will monitor the area pre- and post-restoration to understand potential habitat improvements resulting from the dam removal. 

“The collaboration between CSU and TNC is a model public-private partnership with tremendous benefits for CSU students,” said Troy Keller, earth and space sciences professor at CSU. “The project immerses students in field research, allowing them to work closely with scientists and managers at the nation’s largest and most trusted environmental non-profit, The Nature Conservancy.”

In addition to analyzing the biotic and physical recover of streams, students will help organize the Society for Ecological Restoration’s Southeastern Chapter conference to be held at CSU’s Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center in October. Through scientific presentations and field trips, the symposium will highlight the research CSU students and faculty conduct as part of the CSU-TNC collaboration.

There are more than 30,000 dams in Georgia, many of which no longer serve their intended purpose. Dams and undersized, poorly designed culverts prevent fish and other aquatic organisms from moving through waters in search of habitat, food, and spawning grounds. The Nature Conservancy works with partners across Georgia to improve fish passage and enhance public safety and recreation through dam removal and culvert replacement projects.

“Partnership and collaboration are key to TNC’s conservation approach,” said Sara Gottlieb, Director of Freshwater Science and Strategy at The Nature Conservancy. “We’re delighted to work with faculty and students from CSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences to develop a monitoring program to study the impact of removing the dams and restoring hydrologic connectivity and stream habitats in the Chattahoochee Fall Line landscape.” 

The dam removal and stream restoration project is funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation with a goal of improving aquatic connectivity and habitat for the unique species that live in tributaries in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.