The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

March 3, 2013

Fishermen oppose dam removal

DANVILLE — Local fisherwoman Ann Wells said people travel hundreds of miles to catch “smallies” — smallmouth bass — like we have in our own backyard.

She and her husband have caught 60 in an afternoon. Of course, they put them all back, she said.

In an e-mail to Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other officials titled “Save our River! Our Smallmouth Haven!” she said, “There is nothing like a 4-pound Bronze back pulling on the other end of your line putting up a terrific fight. An even better feeling is releasing the lunker to fight again. Once the river is drained, our trophy smallmouth haven will be gone forever.”

She and other fishermen don’t want to see the Vermilion River and Ellsworth Park dams removed. They say the depth of the water and fish supplies will suffer.

In addition to her e-mail, Wells also has started a petition with bass clubs against the dam removals.

In early February, IDNR responded to Wells’ e-mail stating that “your comments along with the comments of other residents of the Danville area have and will be taken into consideration during further planning considerations of the potential project. Consideration is being given to recreational benefits, ecosystem health, economics of construction, maintenance costs of the dam and most importantly safety to the users of this public water.”

Wells said no one will be able to access the river in order for recreation.

She said once the dam behind the jail is removed the water level will drop about 10 feet. Wells said the main river now varies from a couple of feet deep to a depth of 12 feet.

The public can now walk across the portion behind the old General Motors plant. Once the level is reduced, the public will need to carry their canoes and no other boats will be able to access, she said.

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