2010 Dam Removals

American Rivers, the leading conservation organization fighting for healthy rivers so communities can thrive, today announced its annual list of 60 dams that were removed in 2010, benefitting hundreds of miles of rivers nationwide. The list includes obsolete dams in California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont. American Rivers is the only organization maintaining a record of dam removals in the United States.

Benefits of the dam removals include restoring river health and clean water, revitalizing fish and wildlife, improving public safety and recreation, and enhancing local economies. The most dams were removed in Pennsylvania (30) and Massachusetts and Michigan (five each).

The 2010 list is available at www.AmericanRivers.org/2010DamRemovals (PDF)

“The river restoration movement in our country is stronger than ever. Communities nationwide are removing outdated dams because they recognize that a healthy, free-flowing river is a tremendous asset,” said Serena McClain, Director of American Rivers’ River Restoration Program.

Working with partner organizations throughout the country, American Rivers contributed financial and technical support for many of the dam removals and played a lead role on a number of projects. This list includes all known dam removals, regardless of the level of American Rivers’ involvement.
Highlights include:

Briggsville Dam, North Branch Hoosic River, Massachusetts: The removal of the 15-foot high and 200-foot long Briggsville Dam in the town of Clarksburg restored over 30 miles of high quality headwater streams and exemplary trout habitat. Removal of the dam helped its owner, Cascade School Supplies, avoid closing its business due to the financial burden of dam ownership, saving many jobs in this rural community. Cascade School Supplies is one of the community’s largest employers and has been in business for more than 78 years.

Simkins and Union Dams, Patapsco River, Maryland: The Simkins and Union dams, which originally powered textile mills, were removed in 2010 to restore habitat for American eel, alewife, blueback herring and American shad. The removal of Union Dam eliminated a safety hazard for boaters.

Gold Ray Dam, Rogue River, Oregon: The removal of the 38-foot high, 360 foot long Gold Ray Dam helped restore the Rogue River, beloved for its world-class fishing, boating and abundant wildlife. Gold Ray Dam was the fourth significant dam removed or notched in the Rogue Basin in three years. The removal has improved access to 333 miles of high quality salmon spawning habitat.

While some dams are beneficial to society, many have outlived their usefulness and continue to age and deteriorate as development both upstream and downstream of dams increases. These dams can increase flood risks for communities, and old or poorly maintained dams are at risk of failure. If left in place, dams threaten the lives of boaters and swimmers, degrade water quality, and block migrating fish and wildlife. That is why for more than ten years, American Rivers has led a national effort to restore rivers through removal of dams that no longer make sense. More than 888 dams have been removed nationwide.

For information about dam removal and river restoration projects coming up in 2011, please visit: http://www.americanrivers.org/2011damremovalguide.