The city has unveiled preliminary river and shoreline restoration plans for when the Monterey Dam is removed next summer, but they aren’t much different from an earlier concept design.
A city work team made up of community stakeholders met twice this summer to help design what the river near the Monterey Dam might look like once the dam is removed.
The preliminary plans shared at Tuesday’s community engagement forum include turning the Monterey lagoon into a pond with dry land in the middle, creating boulder and wood habitats in the water for fish, and converting some areas into wetlands and “riparian savannas” with native grasses and other vegetation.
Work team member and It’s a Keeper Bait & Tackle shop owner Shawn McCarten said the team’s goal was to refine and “dial in” on some of the concepts consultant Inter-Fluve presented earlier this year.
For instance, Inter-Fluve’s concept included a boulder habitat just downstream of the Monterey Dam. The work team planned to put one farther upstream, too.
McCarten said that area of the river is turbulent. Boulders would break up the current, allowing fish to congregate for anglers to catch.
Also in the work team’s preliminary plans are stone slabs leading down the water that fishers could use to fish from.
“I care about the fishermen,” McCarten said of his interest on being on the work team.
Stephanie Aegerter joined the work team to help the city see its plans to completion. She wants to dispel ideas that the area won’t be cared for once the dam is removed, she said.
Not everyone who showed up to the meeting was excited about the plans, however.
Several Monterey Dam Association members appeared in matching “Save the Dam” T-shirts Tuesday. The group vocally opposes the dam’s removal.
Member Jean Zuvon lives across the street from the lagoon and doesn’t want to see the area change into a pond with weeds and dry land in the middle.
“It’s going to look horrible,” he said.
The Monterey lagoon has mowed grass leading up to the water’s edge all the way around, which makes it easy to fish from. Students at nearby Wilson Elementary School learn every spring how to fish from the lagoon’s edge, Zuvon said.
Once the lagoon is turned into a pond with native grasses, it will be much harder for anglers and those students to access the water, he said.
McCarten said some tall grass won’t stop fishers.
“They’ll find a way,” he said.
Last week, association member Harry Paulsen took photos of a man fishing from a boat just below the Monterey Dam. That won’t happen once the dam is removed. As a fisherman himself, Paulsen said removing the dam will get rid of fishers.
Turning the lagoon into a pond will make the area better for fishing because the city will dredge out the layers of muck and sediment, which will attract fish who want a break from the river’s current, McCarten said.
City work team members will go over residents’ submitted concerns and suggestions at a September meeting to finalize the river restoration plans, Woodard said.
“It’s going to be an asset to the city,” McCarten said of the plans. “I’ll be glad when it’s done. Let’s get moving.”
Association members didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting to argue in favor of keeping the dam but to see the city’s plans for restoring the area. Instead, they’ll go to a state Department of Natural Resources meeting in September to make a case for keeping the dam.
“We’re not done yet,” Paulsen said.