Northeast dam removals bringing river back to life this summer

As some really big dam removals on the Pacific Northwest’s Elwha and White Salmon Rivers are grabbing the headlines, “small” dam removals continue to be completed around the country.

American Rivers provided technical assistance on two projects currently in (de)construction in the Northeast, and helped fund these projects through our partnership with the NOAA Restoration Center:

Bunker Pond Dam, Lamprey River, Epping, New Hampshire: The State of New Hampshire is putting the finishing touches on the Bunker Pond Dam removal.

The 15-foot high dam was owned by the state and no longer served a functional purpose. It sat at the upstream extent of the federally designated Wild & Scenic segment of the beautiful Lamprey River.

The dam’s removal may help extend the Wild & Scenic designation in the future.

Pawtuxet Falls Dam, Pawtuxet River, Cranston/Warwick, Rhode Island: Deconstruction of the Pawtuxet Falls Dam is currently in progress, allowing the lower portion of the Pawtuxet River to be free-flowing for the first time in 200 years.

The dam’s removal will greatly help migratory species – an estimated 100,000 herring and shad will now be able to move up the river next spring. The project has been a multi-year planning and design effort and was made possible through the perseverance of the project team, led by Tom Ardito of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program.

Our great friends at Save the Bay in Rhode Island are maintaining an active blog on the construction. Check it out at

As construction season continues, more rivers are being brought back to life through dam removals in the Northeast, including the Jones River in Massachusetts and the Suncook River in New Hampshire later this year.