2011 Dam Removal Resource Guide

2011 was the ‘year of the river’ with several large, high-profile dams coming down across the country. American Rivers helped make removing outdated dams an accepted and even preferred option for dam owners and communities.

This resource guide provides a snapshot of some of the exciting river restoration projects for 2011, and information about the benefits of dam removal.

For additional information or interviews, contact Amy Kober.

The Rivers

Elwha River, Washington 

Deconstruction began September 2011

The Elwha flows out of the mountainous heart of Olympic National Park to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Puget Sound. It once supported six species of Pacific salmon and steelhead and has been the home of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe since time immemorial. Dismantling the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams will allow the river to flow freely for the first time in 100 years, restoring over 70 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat. At 210 feet tall, Glines Canyon Dam will be the tallest dam ever removed. American Rivers helped secure more than $50 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Elwha River restoration.

White Salmon River, Washington

Deconstruction began October 2011

The White Salmon River flows from the slopes of Mt. Adams to the Columbia River. Portions of the river are designated as a Wild and Scenic or are protected as part of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

American Rivers has worked for over ten years with our partners including the Yakama Indian Nation to lead the effort to remove the 95-year old, 125-foot Condit Dam. Removal of the dam will restore access to 33 miles of habitat for steelhead and 14 miles of habitat for chinook salmon. The river is recognized as a premier whitewater destination—ten outfitters run commercial trips on the river, and at least 25,000 boaters use the river each year. Dam removal will create additional recreation opportunities.

Penobscot River, Maine

Deconstruction began 2011

The Penobscot is New England’s second largest river system, home to the Penobscot Indian Nation. The river is known for its historically abundant fisheries, and for years the first Penobscot River salmon of the season was given to the President of the United States. As a member of the Board of Directors, American Rivers is working with the Penobscot River Restoration Trust to remove two dams on the Penobscot (Veazie and Great Works) and install a bypass channel for fish passage at Howland Dam. The project will significantly improve access to nearly 1,000 miles of river habitat while maintaining current power generation.

More than 15 dams have been removed in Maine since 1998, restoring more than 465 miles of river. Most notable was the 1999 removal of Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River.

Patapsco River, Maryland

Deconstruction began September 2010, ongoing

American Rivers is working with partners to remove several dams on the Patapsco, one of the Baltimore area’s hidden jewels. Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner at the mouth of the Patapsco, and today the river supports fish and wildlife and offers residents fishing, boating, and other recreation opportunities.

American Rivers was awarded $4 million in economic stimulus funding for the removal of the Union and Simkins dams. We are also advocating for the removal of Bloede Dam, which has been responsible for several deaths over the years, and presents an ongoing danger to swimmers. Removal of these dams will restore fisheries and contribute to the recovery of the Chesapeake Bay. Once the river is restored, we hope to work with local partners to create a blue trail along the Patapsco to promote recreation and education.

Dam Removal Across the Country

In addition to these high-profile river restoration efforts, many other dams are scheduled for removal around the country in 2011. These projects might not have the same kind of spotlight as the ones listed above, but their benefits to local communities in terms of public safety, flood management, clean water, wildlife, economics, and recreation are significant.

American Rivers is also playing a lead role in ongoing efforts to restore the Klamath River and the River by removing harmful dams.

Contact Amy Kober for information about dam removals, river restoration, and success stories in your area.

Additional Resources