American Rivers’ DamNation Film Guide

DamNation Film Cover

DamNation continues to dazzle audiences with its sweeping vistas and the emotional way in which it blends the cultural and spiritual. The film explores the shift in attitude from a country built on dams—from the mill dam’s role in the industrial revolution to the great dam-building era of the New Deal—to one in which the detrimental effect of many of these structures has given rise to an effort to remove certain dams and restore rivers. As the film tours the U.S., new audiences are introduced to the concept of dam removal and continue to express a desire to learn more and get involved.

Over the last two decades, American Rivers has pioneered a science-based approach to the removal of dams and other stream barriers that engages communities in restoring their rivers, motivates civic leaders to become champions, and identifies state and federal funds to make the removals possible. This includes resources about the different components of a dam removal and helping practitioners develop the skills and confidence necessary to undertake their own projects. This guide draws on American Rivers’ expertise and advocacy to provide you with information and tools to help you take your next step.

Dams of DamNation

Most of the dams highlighted in DamNation were large, complex projects involving a multitude of partners working to iron out ecological and legal considerations over a number of years (or even decades). You can read more about our role in some of these large-scale projects on our Year of the River page and via these information sites:

Dam Removal 101

While it’s understandable that the sexiest dam removal projects are often the biggest or the most explosive (literally), the tens of thousands of small and mid-size dams littering this nation’s rivers have many of the same ecological consequences as their larger brethren. The effort underway all across the nation to remove these small and mid-size structures is the backbone of the modern river restoration movement. In fact over 1,100 dams have been removed across the country. Study up on your basic dam and dam removal facts:

Dam Removal 201:  Getting Involved

Is there a dam on a river in your community that concerns you? Are you wondering how you would even initiate a potential dam removal project? The following resources will help point you in the right direction.

If you or someone you know is ready to take on a potential dam removal project, American Rivers’ project manager training video series will provide you with specific tools for effectively managing a dam removal project, including determining project complexity, drafting an effective scope of work for the project and navigating sensitive issues like sediment management.

If you are in need of a shorter video to show at venues like a public meeting or city council meeting, I recommended checking out the following American Rivers’ resources. These videos provide a more pragmatic look at dam removal and are tailored for communities considering taking on their own local project.

For a complete list of the tools and reports available for your use, please visit our Dam Removal Resource Center.

3 Responses to “American Rivers’ DamNation Film Guide”

Former Member

This is great and I respect much of your work. Many of us just wish American Rivers would stay focussed on dam removal and stop supporting misguided “dam improvement” projects like trucking fish around dams. That is hurting our efforts at long term solutions. You can’t make a dam “green” or “clean”. Thanks


DamNation will be shown FOR FREE at the Boston Patagonia store at 7 PM on June 5. With panel discussion of dam removal practitioners from state, fed, and non-profit!