Honk Falls, and a Free Rondout

Honk Falls, and a Free Rondout



Honk Falls, and a Free(er) Rondout Creek


We finish an 18-month project at the former Honk Lake, as the Rondout Creek returns to swift-running water in the Catskills.

It’s always satisfying to see a lakebed returned to a running stream. At the former Honk Lake in Wawarsing, New York, the old dam was lowered, effectively removing its ability to impound the Rondout Creek.

With the lake drained, and the creek running again, it wasn’t long before the herons, blackbirds and kildeer were searching the creek’s rocky edges for food This spring, the water by the new spillway was teeming with baby frogs.

We worked with contractor A. Servidone for this project, as they diverted half a mile of stream to allow work on the dam. The existing spillway and penstock was demolished, and a new cap installed.

Three river-cobble riffles were installed along the course of the stream to add oxygen to the water, and to create fish and insect habitat.

The effect of constructed riffles is to mimic naturally-occuring streams, where water speeds up and tumbles over stony obstructions, landing in a calmer pool below and making excellent fish habitat.

Buds appear in a close-up of a live stake

At the top of a willow live stake, buds appear. Live stakes are branches of trees that are cut while the trees are dormant and then planted directly in the soil.

Along the stone-armored shores of the newly-free river, hundreds of trees and shrubs were planted, and the underlying seed bank — there, under the lake, for who knows how long — began to sprout.

In the years ahead, willows, river birch, serviceberry, buttonberry and more species of a diverse and native forest will take the place of the old lake.

And despite the hatching out of millions of hungry and defoliating gypsy moth caterpillars, the newly-planted forest is growing.

Allman Environmental Services Photography worked with Servidone from the preconstruction to postconstruction stage of the Honk dam project. I’m looking forward to coming back in the fall to see how the new trees have developed over a single season.

In New York State — as elsewhere across the northeast — many dam removal projects are underway, returning streams and rivers to their natural, free-flowing state.

With several years’ experience in this area, Allman Environmental Services Photography is happy to provide photo and video documentation for dam decommissioning and stream rehabilitation projects.


A dam with water from a riverbed, taken during progress photography stage

Spillway of the Honk Falls Dam after rehabilitation. Lowering the spillway allowed the lake to drain, and the Rondout Creek to become a fast-moving creek again, before tumbling into the gorge below.





  • Contractor: A. Servidone/B. Anthony Construction
  • Owner: New York City DEP

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Challenging terrain, geography and environments are a personal specialty.  Capture the energy of your team at work, on training and field exercises, with heavy equipment or in challenging environmental conditions. These photos can be used again and again: in annual reports, your socials, on office walls and other marketing deliverables.  -Suzanne


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Dam Rehabilitation, Catskills

Dam Rehabilitation, Catskills





Dam Rehabilitation

In the Catskill Mountains





A dam rehabilitation project gets underway in the Catskills.

New work for a dam rehabilitation and removal project in the Catskill mountain area of New York.

When it was built, the dam was the second-largest dam in the United States. Today, it’s an aging, high-hazard dam that holds back a large impoundment area on the Rondout Creek in Napanoch, New York. This project, along with stabilizing the dam, will rehabilitate the streambed and floodplain.

We’re providing the progress photography and videography, including aerial work, for this historic project.


a blue-cast frozen waterfall in the catskill mountains

Frozen water in the spillway, Catskills dam project.



a female photographer in a winter field in the Catskill mountains of New York State

Beautiful tawny fields of wintertime in Napanoch, New York.


An overhead view of a streambed in winter

An overhead look at the creekbed, where a lake used to be. Rivers in the Northeast have for too long given enough to development and energy. Dam removal and stream restoration projects like this one re-establish vital riverine connectivity.


An overhead view of a rugged, rocky creek.

Rugged Roundout Creek, downstream of the dam.

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Allman Environmental Services Photography is licensed for commercial drone operation by the FAA (Part 107).


  • CERTIFIED: SBA-certified WOSB, New York State- and City-certified WBE, and Port Authority certified DBE
  • REGISTERED: SAM & ORCA. Experienced in Federal Government contracting.
  • DUNS: 839898728.
  • FEIN: 84-2603642
  • We accept all government agency purchase orders and credit cards.








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Restoration of the Coonamessett River, Massachusetts

Restoration of the Coonamessett River, Massachusetts

Restoring the Coonamessett River

I’ve done extensive work throughout Massachusetts for the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, photographing and filming their dam removal and wetland restoration projects. 

This flyover came after photographing the DER’s work in the town of Falmouth at the lower Coonamessett  River watershed. It shows the marsh after dam removal and prior to revegetation, in 2020.

The dead tree stumps you see scattered across the marsh were deliberately left in place to provide shade for frogs, turtles and salamanders. The uneven, bumpy surface of the marsh floor creates diverse habitat for a wider variety of plant life.

As it passes through the preserve, the Coonamessett River is now narrower, longer and has eight new bends. There are now also deep pools for fish to live in and gravel riffles that support insects the fish like to eat.

While the muddy, bumpy, treeless expanse of marsh can be startling to see, what comes next — the growing trees, sprouting seeds, and return of vital habitat — can be seen in the vertical photo of the marsh.


An aerial view of a restored cranberry bog in Massachusetts

Before and after: the Coonamessett restoration after dam and cranberry bog removal.

A vertical aerial photo of a cranberry bog restoration.

Vertical aerial photograph of the Coonamessett (former) cranberry bog area. Two areas are split by a boardwalk: to the left is the marsh before vegetation began to grow.

Aerial photography is almost always recommended for environmental projects, because an overhead view can show you the project in context to the wider surroundings. In most cases, we don’t charge extra for drone photography; a drone is just another camera in our bag.

Allman Environmental Services Photography is at all times FAA Part 107 licensed and amply insured. Let us know how we can help on your next project.








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Lake Hudsonia Dam

Lake Hudsonia Dam

Last Days of Lake Hudsonia Dam

Aerial view of Lake Hudsonia dam

Lake Hudsonia shoreline in winter. ©Suzy Allman/AESP

Another Dam, Too Expensive to Repair, To Come Down

Lake Hudsonia Dam, Dec. 28

This year, I became a dam-removal enthusiast.

I think there are probably a lot of us out there, and our number is growing as dam removal has a “moment”.

Fans of free-running rivers, we like it when old dams come down. We like to see rivers return to their natural course. And, especially, we like the thought of reconnected habitat: of fish, once blocked from spawning upstream, finding a clear path to quiet pools in spring.

I had read that the contract for removing the Lake Hudsonia dam is out for bid. After nearly a decade of discussion, that part of the Hibernia Brook, impeded for decades, will finally run free. I wanted to see what the dam and the lake look like before the structure was removed. And I wanted to make sure to gather “before” pictures, to hold up against the “after”s.

So I took my cameras and headed to Rockaway Township, in New Jersey.

Lake Hudsonia, behind the dam.

Lake Hudsonia and the drainage area upstream of the dam. Beyond the impoundment — more like a pond than a lake — the Hibernia Brook backs up through a woods. Photo ©Suzy Allman/Allman Environmental Services Photography


The Dam

The dam is located in Rockaway Township, in New Jersey. It impounds a small lake — a pond, really — for about 1.5 square miles.

The lake sits just off Green Pond Road, behind a parking area for a ball field. And it’s a pretty little thing, and no doubt means a lot to the community as a place to fish and watch birds.

Aerial view of Lake Hudsonia dam

A view of the Lake Hudsonia dam in Rockaway, New Jersey. Photo 2019 ©Suzy Allman/AESP

Holding back the lake is a 500-feet long earth and stone dam, varying in height from 4 to 13 feet. It has a grassy top with a pathway worn by the feet of fishermen and dog walkers.

The spillway creates a waterfall that tumbles into the boggy, wooded acreage in front of the dam. That area is littered with cans, beer bottles, wrappers, and the usual fishing trash (hooks, lines, sinkers, and their packaging).

There are dams just like it all over the country, and so many in the northeast. They once created mill ponds, or livestock ponds, generated electricity, or provided storage for floodwaters. So many of them are “relic” dams today: no longer serving the purpose for which they were built. And many, including the Hudsonia dam, are “high hazard” dams. Fixing — or just maintaining — the aging dam is constantly required. And then there are the increasingly-frequent “100 year” storm events that are hitting the Northeast. The Lake Hudsonia dam sustained notable damage after Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and became a target for the NJDEP Dam Safety Section.

A Place to Fish

When I got there, two men were ice fishing, their tip-ups stationed around the pond but close to the dam.

I wondered if they knew that, by this time next year, the lake they stood on would be a floodplain next to a brook?

Even if they did, I wondered how they felt about it.

Fishing on Lake Hudsonia

Wintertime fishing on frozen Lake Hudsonia, in Rockaway Township, New Jersey.

It’s always interesting to have conversations with the neighbors of dams slated for removal. Most are against it, and I can understand why.

It’s difficult to lose a lake, a symbol, a historic place, a site of family gatherings or activities, somewhere you’ve seen animals congregate and create homes.

But, my feeling is: our waterways and habitats have given enough to industry in the last century. And it’s time to give something back.

More Pictures of Lake Hudsonia Dam, Before Removal

Pre- (and post-) construction Photography

In the course of my work for the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, I’ve learned what it means to take preconstruction and post construction photographs of dam removal projects.

What matters is the change in the river: the creation of a floodplain. The riverbed as it’s scoured back to a natural, rocky state. The path the newly-free river choses, usually on its own (the less man-made interference, the better). Seeds, stored long ago, that hatch into riverside plants.

Because these are the measurable impacts of dam removal.  You can see the difference dam removal makes — not just at the dam site, but upstream, and downstream. The floodplain spreads; rocks show up in the streambed. Rivers just become a little friskier and less sluggish.

And then there are the improvements that you can’t readily see: how the water is delivered to the landscape in pulses, the way it used to be. The way its creatures know and respond to.

And this is the beautiful language of a stream healing itself. For me, there’s no better antidote to the constant drumbeat of environmental degradation than visiting a dam before and after its removal.

Before and after pictures of a dam removal project

Two photos of the site of the Upper Roberts Meadow dam in Northampton, Massachusetts. The top shows the mud flat that exists after removal of the impoundment; the bottom photo shows the same site, a year later.

A year ago, I was new to this. By now, though, I’ve photographed over twenty dam removal sites this year, from Cape Cod to Pennsylvania, and I can tell you that seeing relic dams come down is uplifting.

I highly recommend it. Find yourself a dam that’s slated for removal (or one that’s already breached). Then watch as the stream, or brook, or river, changes and heals itself. First comes the dewatering, and then the temporary channeling of the brook so the demolition can be carried out. You’ll see an unappealing mat of mud where the pond or lake used to be, but that, too, is temporary.

Watch over a couple of seasons as the floodplain forms, and the river starts to sing the old song: water over rock, frisky and low. It’s astounding, how quickly these changes happen: give it a year. And you’ll never look at a dam again and say, “What a pretty waterfall.”

The spillway of the Lake Hudsonia dam

The spillway. The dam is an earth and stone structure reaching 15 feet in some places. Dams change the hydrology of a river; they stop sediment from traveling downstream and change the natural ebb and flow of a waterway, and change the lifecycles of micro-invertebrates and other aquatic creatures. To a spawning fish, a wall is a wall, no matter how tall. ©Suzy Allman/AESP


Allman Environmental Services Photography provides progress photography and videography for environmental infrastructure and construction projects, including dam removal projects and wetland restoration. We love what we do, because we love the projects you do. We are WBE-certified in multiple states in the Northeast.
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Tel-Electric Dam Removal

Tel-Electric Dam Removal

Removal Begins at the Tel-Electric Dam


Pittsfield, Massachusetts

“Don’t forget your waders. The site is contaminated.”

That was the final word of advice for shooting the Tel-Electric Dam, a run-of-river dam in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for Massachusetts’ Division of Ecological Restoration.

 No problem! But I had to ask what the contamination is behind a dam built beside an electric piano factory. And as it happens, the electric piano factory wasn’t the source of the contamination.

Upstream of the factory, the west branch of the Housatanic River is loaded with PCBs, a legacy of dumping from (oh yes) General Electric. And the Tel-Electric dam served as a trap for sediment containing these PCBs.

In our home state of New York, the lesson was learned in the 1970s: you don’t just tear down a dam with a load of PCBs behind it, lurking in the sediment. In 1973, the Fort Edward dam, which lay below two General Electric factories, was removed, sending thousands of pounds of PCB sediments that had accumulated for years – thanks, GE! — flowing downstream.

Fortunately, the rest of New England learned that lesson as well, and as a result, years of careful planning goes into removing a dam.

In late November of this year, the Tel-Electric dam was breached, and so the on-the-ground work began. SumCo Eco-Contracting is the contractor in these pictures, along with the project designer, Milone & Macbroom.


Environmental services photography is a new branch of construction photography and videography that specializes in the documenting the work of environmental engineers, consultants, contractors, and related fields. Allman Environmental Services Photography is dedciated to documenting the projects that improve the natural world.