American Rivers Lists 58 Dams to Be Removed

American Rivers has released its annual list of 58 dams in 16 states that have been removed or are slated for removal in 2009.

The group says that the removal of outdated dams enhances water quality, public safety and flood protection.

For more than 10 years, American Rivers has led a national effort to restore rivers through removal of dams that no longer make sense. The organization’s expertise and advocacy have contributed to the removal of more than 200 dams nationwide. States on this year’s list include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

“It is time to rethink our nation’s water infrastructure. These dam removals are an example of how our communities can reap multiple benefits when we work with nature instead of against it,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “Streams, wetlands, and floodplains give our communities essential services, like clean water, flood protection, and abundant fisheries. When we help rivers we are actually helping ourselves.”

For example, in Pennsylvania, the dilapidated Saucon Park Dam was built in the 1920s for recreational purposes but, most recently, it only served to exacerbate localized flooding and stream bank erosion. American Rivers worked with the town and other partners to remove it this year and restore Saucon Creek, which is a tributary to the Lehigh River. The project also reconnected three miles of important spawning habitat for fish such as American shad, American eel, alewife, blueback herring, hickory shad, brown trout, brook trout, redbreast sunfish, and white sucker. This strategy is integral to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s efforts to rebuild depleted fish stocks in the Delaware and Lehigh river basins.

In Washington, the 80-year-old, 26-foot high Hemlock Dam on Trout Creek, a tributary of the Wind River, harmed fish populations and was a public safety hazard. American Rivers provided funding assistance through its national partnership with the NOAA Restoration Center to help remove the dam this summer and restored a safer, healthier Trout Creek. The removal opened up 15 miles of upstream habitat and many more miles of seasonal habitat on tributaries to fish, including the currently threatened Lower Columbia steelhead, and eliminated the risk of swimmers being swept over the dam and into its dangerous hydraulic.

Applications are currently being accepted until Dec. 18 for 2010 project funding.

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