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Columbia Lake Dam Removal Project


In early June, 2018, the Division of Fish and Wildlife began the drawdown of Columbia Lake, located within the Columbia Wildlife Management Area. The drawdown was in preparation for the removal of the obsolete dam which blocked American Shad to their historic spawning grounds, and impedes the movement of American Eel.

The removal of the dam will allow fish passage to over 10 miles of river by restoring the natural flow regime, and it reclaim 1.5 miles of stream habitat. The project has caused the area of the lake to be closed to the public.

The Columbia Lake dam site is located 1/4 mile upstream of the Paulins Kill River's confluence with the Delaware River in Knowlton Township, Warren County. The 18-foot high, 330-foot long dam, constructed in 1909 by Warren County Power Co., impounded a 43-acre lake that stretchee more than 1.5 miles upstream of the dam. The dam and the lake (sold by NJ Power & Light Co. in 1955) is owned and managed by the Division as part of the 1,098 acre Columbia WMA.

The area remains an active construction site and the Wildlife Management Area from the Rt. 46 access through to Warrington Rd., on both sides of the river, is closed to the public until the project is complete. The area is patrolled and trespassers will be prosecuted. The river below Warrington Road is also closed to all boating.

The dam removal project is just one aspect of a larger initiative led by The Nature Conservancy with the goals of improving riparian and in-stream habitat throughout the Paulins Kill watershed.

Columbia Lake Dam Removal Project Information (pdf, 210kb) - Includes project goals, partners, funding, and updated timeline. Updated 2/20/19
Project Timeline Updated 2/20/19

Columbia Dam
Columbia Dam and Power House
Click to enlarge
Site of Columbia Dam
Columbia Dam Site
Click to enlarge

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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: February 20, 2019