Restoration of Historic Loxahatchee River Dam
Access to paddle over the Lainhart Dam will be restricted starting in mid-July but temporary access for paddlers to portage around the dam will remain open
|Water flows over the restored Masten Dam on the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River. Click on image for large version.
Jupiter, FL -
Restoration of the historic Masten Dam on the Loxahatchee River in northern Palm Beach County is nearly complete and work will soon begin to restore the Lainhart Dam, another historic dam on the Wild and Scenic River.
The dams, first built in the 1930s by local families, control and regulate upstream flow stages of the Northwest Fork of the river and maintain the hydrology of the riverine floodplain ecosystem. Modeling has shown that without the two dams in place, the upstream water levels would be about 1.5 feet lower, draining the freshwater swamp and encouraging saltwater intrusion.
"One of SFWMD's primary missions is the protection of natural systems and these dam renovations are crucial to ensuring the future of the Loxahatchee River, Florida's first designated wild and scenic river," said Governing Board Vice Chairman Jim Moran, a lifelong Palm Beach County resident. "These dams are not only living parts of Palm Beach County's history, but they also play a crucial role in protecting the cypress swamp floodplain that makes the Loxahatchee so unique."
In February, the SFWMD Governing Board approved $2.5 million worth of restoration work to the two historic dams. The repairs, which came after extensive public input and thorough review, were designed to minimize any impact to the river's natural resources and historical integrity of the dams. Areas of the dam that have decayed or where the water is no longer being held back will be repaired and stabilized, and soil under and around the dams will be stabilized to reduce seepage.
In addition to protecting the unique river ecosystem of the Loxahatchee River, the dam restoration work also included reconstructing the canoe and kayak portages to improve recreational access for all users.
Access for paddlers to portage around the Masten Dam remained open during the renovations of the dam over the past several months even as access to paddle over the dam itself was temporarily restricted. When work restoring the Lainhart Dam begins in mid-July, access to paddling over the dam will be restricted. Temporary "portage" access to carry boats around the dam will be open while crews build new permanent portage structures. The repairs are scheduled to be completed by July 2018.