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Dam Demolitions: Join A Growing Trend to Restore Rivers


Last week, demolition crews launched into a major project to remove the Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River in Maine. The second major dam to be removed on the Penobscot, this demolition does not constitute a single act but, rather, reflects a national movement to restore river habitats.


In Columbus, Ohio, conservationists are busy fundraising the remaining $3.5 million needed for a $35 million project to remove that city’s Main Street Dam and revamp the Scioto River. Columbus denizens foresee construction beginning later this year, with an end result of returning the river bed to its natural state and freeing up 33 acres for bike trails, pathways and parks.


According to American Rivers, an environmental group, some 1,100 dams have been demolished across the country in the past century. Most of these dams have been removed in the past 20 years. These efforts not only remove unsafe dams at risk of breaking, but also restore habitat for fish and other wildlife while beautifying natural areas for people to enjoy.


In 2012, communities in 19 states removed 62 dams in the United States: Unsafe and outdated dams were removed from rivers in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.


The three leading states for dam removal are Pennsylvania (11 dams removed); Massachusetts (nine dams removed); and Oregon (eight dams removed).


Altogether, the 2012 efforts have restored 400 miles of streams across the country.


Dam demolitions are major projects usually undertaken with a combination of private and public partners and private and public funding. American Rivers is the only organization in the country maintaining a record of dam removals. The organizations reports that it “uses the information to communicate the benefits of dam removal, which include restoring river health and clean water, revitalizing fish and wildlife, improving public safety and recreation, and enhancing local economies.”


Learn more about how you can protect rivers on the American Rivers website.