Sunday, June 23, 2013


Demolition of San Clemente Dam on the Carmel River - Monterey County, California, USA

Carmel River restoration to be completed in fall 2015

"A 92-year-old dam that's been in danger of collapse for decades is slated for demolition this summer, the largest dam to come down in California history. The $83 million, 28-month tear down is prompting hopes that the 36-mile waterway once listed among "America's Top Ten Most Endangered Rivers" might someday be restored to the quiet, clear ribbon that flowed from forested mountains to the Monterey Bay." "'The irony is that people think they're living in the most beautiful place in the world, where they think they can just build and build, but they have no idea where their water comes from, and they're blind to their impact on this finite resource, the Carmel River,' said author and journalist Ray A. March, whose 2012 book 'River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River'River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River cover documents the damage."
(California's San Clemente Dam removal project groundbreaking - SJ Mercury News 21june2013 and Sacramento Bee)

"When San Clemente Dam was built in 1921, the curved arch structure was a key source of water for growing Monterey Peninsula towns. But now it's obsolete and ... its reservoir is so silted up with sand and gravel that it hasn't been used to supply water since 2002. ... construction crews on Friday were to begin a three-year, $84 million project to tear down the hulking landmark - California's largest dam-removal project ever. The work will open up 25 miles of upstream tributaries and creeks so endangered steelhead trout can return to their historical spawning grounds."
(San Clemente Dam removal project on the Carmel River - SJ Mercury News 21june2013 and Sacramento Bee)

San Clemente Dam and Carmel River Maps.

• Map book: California Maps - Atlas & Gazetteer by Delorme, 2008.

Online map user instructions. Click and drag to reposition this interactive map.
• The tool on the left zooms in and out. Point on the red markers to see the names.
• Map=roads. Satellite=satellite map. Terrain=3D shaded topo map. Topo=topographic map.
Full-Screen online driving map - Carmel River and San Clemente Dam.

Geographic Coordinates - Landmarks (Marker)
N 38.54118 W 122.50889 - San Clemente Dam (A)
N 36.53605 W 121.92837 - Carmel River State Beach (B)

More information:
 • San Clemente Dam Removal & Carmel River Reroute
Carmel River Paddleboating Guide and Map - California USA.
River and Land Conservation in California - BRT Insights.
Carmel River bookmarks - brthomas.

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Thanks for bringing this long hoped for event to my attention. As you know I worked in the Monterey Fish and Game office for 22 years, and often heard discussions about the Carmel River steelhead and the San Clemente Dam. I hiked up the river past the dam several times, and once even kayaked the Carmel River from just below the dam to Carmel Bay. The river was choked by willows many places making passage very difficult. Maybe high flows will one day clear out some of the willows making kayaking there attractive once again.
As soon as the dam demolition and river restoration are complete I'll be interested to kayak and/or hike there. Once the natural flow is restored hopefully the willows will be flushed out of the riverbed after one or two big winter storms.
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