Keeping the Dam Open

Unlike any other project, this one assists with public safety and flood control. The ‘tubes’, as they are commonly known, are a series of 5 archways that span the river creating the perfect environment to trap fallen trees and debris, which then prohibit the river from flowing freely. It’s a domino effect. The clogged tubes obstruct the river flow which can ultimately flood residences and companies up-river from the dam.

We have been clearing debris from Pratt dam tubes for more than 20 years. The task of clearing the tubes was originally undertaken by Frank Matta (now a Director of BRWC/FOB) who, from his rock and ice climbing knowledge, knew how to top rope. He convinced a friend to help him and together they used chainsaws to remove the trees from the dam.  This is prior to the bike path being installed. The rest is history.

The cleanup of the Pratt Dam is one of our more challenging and resource intensive projects. All volunteers wear life jackets because as the debris is removed, the river flow increases accordingly. The pull of the river can be substantial, which is why we never undertake the cleanup unless the cfs (cubic feet per second) is below a certain level. The large trees are cut with chainsaws while the volunteers are standing in moving water.  We also employ a buddy system so those using chainsaws have someone standing by to assist them. Volunteers also assist from the bike path providing gear, tools, water and verbal support. This is the spirit of volunteerism.