Advocacy group American Rivers released their annual dam removal report on Tuesday highlighting 65 removals across 21 states. According to AR, communities joined non-profits as well as state and federal agencies to restore more than 570 miles of streams “for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.”
Pennsylvania topped the removal list for the thirteenth year running with 23 dams taken out in 2015. Connecticut removed 7 dams and Michigan took out 5.
“Long experience has shown us that dam removal is an excellent tool for restoring river health, revitalizing fish and wildlife, improving public safety, and reconnecting communities with their rivers,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers, who also emphasized how removing dams helps make ecosystems and communities more resilient to the effects of climate change.
“Climate change is hitting rivers and freshwater resources first and worst, with increasingly severe floods and droughts,” AR said in a statement. “Healthy rivers are a community’s first line of defense against these climate impacts. Removing dams improves river health by restoring natural flows and other important river functions, along with floodplain and wetland habitat. Free-flowing rivers connected to their floodplains can better store and filter water, safeguarding against flood damage.”
Check out the American Rivers database below, which includes information on 1,300 dams that have been removed across the country since 1912. Most of those dams (1,061) were removed in the past 25 years. Green tags mark the dams removed in 2015.
American Rivers also listed these highlights of dam removal and river restoration efforts in 2015:
Pond Lily Dam, West River/Long Island Sound, Connecticut
The Pond Lily Dam removal project increased the capacity of the river and communities to withstand storms by eliminating the hazard of catastrophic dam failure during future flooding. This project opened approximately 2.6 miles of the West River and 76 acres of pond habitat to migratory fish. The project employed dam removal as an innovative tactic to improve coastal defense against flooding.
Centreville Dam, Gravel Run, Maryland
The Centreville Dam exacerbated upstream flooding on Gravel Run, threatening local infrastructure. With climate change expected to increase the incidence of flooding in the area, American Rivers and our partners improved local flood resiliency by removing the dam and restoring the natural stream channel and surrounding habitat. Removal of the dam also allowed access to 13 miles of additional upstream habitat for migratory fish.
Song of the Morning Ranch Dam (Golden Lotus Dam; Lansing Club Dam), Pigeon River, Michigan
Located on a Blue Ribbon trout stream, the Song of the Morning Ranch Dam separated the headwaters of the Pigeon River from the rest of this thriving cold water system. In 2008, a silt spill caused a catastrophic fish kill downstream, and ultimately led to a collaborative agreement to restore the river and remove this dam. Careful management of sediment at the dam removal site will ensure that the Pigeon River is able to thrive following the removal.
— For more information on these and other 2015 removals, please see visit www.AmericanRivers.org.
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