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Burson Lake Dam Removal

Silty water from Reedy Branch flowing into the Chattooga River.

In early summer, we discovered a failed stand pipe at Burson Lake dam on the Sumter National Forest in South Carolina. The pipe’s failure had resulted in heavy erosion of the surrounding dam embankment, which led to Reedy Branch, a tributary to the Chattooga River, becoming heavily inundated with sediment. Without intervention, the creek was at risk of water quality impairment.

We reported the problem to the Andrew Pickens Ranger District and proposed a few possible remedies, including the full removal of the dam. In mid-June, the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agreed to this solution and quickly got to work on the dam’s deconstruction. We’re happy to report that the project is now complete and Reedy Branch is on its way to being restored to its natural condition!

The aerial photos below, courtesy of Brian Jacobson, show Reedy Branch flowing through the former Burson Lake bed as crews work to complete the dam removal (left) and after the project was complete (right).