Barrier Removals in California

Fish passage barrier removal

Since 1999, when American Rivers spearheaded the effort to remove the Edwards Dam from the Kennebec River in Maine, we have led the national movement to remove obsolete dams and other barriers from rivers.

Since 2001, American Rivers has partnered with NOAA to help communities around the country restore their local rivers by removing unnecessary dams. This program has provided over $4 million in financial assistance and priceless hours of technical assistance to more than 100 river restoration projects in California and across the country.

In California, at least 80% of the historic spawning and rearing habitat historically available to salmon and steelhead, fish that spawn in freshwater and mature in the ocean, has been blocked by barriers. Our California program focuses on projects that remove obsolete dams and other barriers such as culverts to provide fish migration and restore more natural river conditions.  We have helped remove over 20 barriers large and small, opening up more than 100 miles of habitat.  The links below are only some of our past and ongoing projects.

  • Klamath River

    American Rivers played a key role in the 10 year effort to reach agreement to remove 4 dams on the Klamath River in 2020.

  • Matilija Dam

    American Rivers has been working with the Matilija Coalition to remove the Matilija Dam in the Ventura River watershed to restore steelhead migration and replenish the sand supply to nearby beaches suffering from erosion.

  • Horse Creek

    With our funding support and planning assistance, the Horse Creek dam in the Sisquoc River basin near Santa Barbara was blown up to make way for steelhead.

  • Mattole River

    We have helped fund a local watershed group to remove numerous poorly designed road crossings that prevented coho salmon and steelhead from reaching large portions of the Mattole River watershed.

  • Marsh Creek

    American Rivers led the effort to provide fish passage over a dam on Marsh Creek in the Delta area so Chinook salmon and steelhead could reach over 5 miles of upstream spawning habitat in the shadow of Mount Diablo.