62 Dams Removed in 2015
American Rivers is proud to announce that the great movement to restore rivers through dam removal has continued across the nation in 2015. Communities in 21 states, working in partnership with non-profit organizations and state and federal agencies, removed 62 dams in 2015, restoring more than 570 miles of streams for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people. Pennsylvania had the highest number of removals (23) for the thirteenth year in a row, followed by Connecticut (7) and Michigan (5). American Rivers played a role in 15 of the dam removals on this year’s list.
This year, we are seeing dam removal emerging as a tool for communities to increase their resiliency in the face of a changing climate. Climate change is hitting rivers and freshwater resources first and worst, with increasingly severe floods and droughts. 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.
To accompany the 2015 list, American Rivers updated the interactive map that includes all known dam removals in the United States as far back as 1916 (for which a specific location has been recorded). The map features the name of the dam and river, location, year the dam was removed and other facts. Explore the map at www.AmericanRivers.org/DamRemovalsMap
Highlights of dam removal and river restoration efforts in 2015 include:
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 our full list.