Movement to Take Down Thousands of Dams Goes Mainstream

National Geographic, January 28, 2015, By Michelle Nijhuis

"This spring, for the first time in more than two centuries, American shad, striped bass, and river herring may spawn in White Clay Creek, a tributary of the Delaware River in northern Delaware. Early one morning last month, a five-person crew waded into the frigid creek and pulled down most of a timber-and-stone dam that had blocked the river's flow since the early years of the Revolutionary War.

The White Clay Creek dam was the first ever removed in the state of Delaware, but it was far from the only one removed in the United States last year. On Tuesday, the conservation group American Rivers announced that 72 dams were torn down or blown up in 2014, restoring some 730 miles of waterways from California to Pennsylvania.

Twenty years ago, dam removal was a fringe notion, and early demolition efforts gained support only because the dams in question were no longer in use and, in some cases, were dangerous to people living nearby.

Now, the U.S. dam removal movement has wide acceptance as well as bigger ambitions; on Tuesday, producers of a recent documentary called DamNation met with members of Congress and White House officials to press their case for the removal of four large federal dams from the lower Snake River in eastern Washington. ..."

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