• Sarah Schoenrock

Dams to be Removed in Western America to Restore Rivers

Three Dams are planned to be taken down in an effort to restore rivers in areas of western America.

According to National Geographic, the removal of the dams is to help restore the ecosystem of the river life that has been put in danger recently. One of the dams, the Nelson Dam, is currently described as “unneeded” since it blocks the movement of salmon in the river, an important part of the river ecosystem. The dam is located in the city of Yakima, sitting on the Naches River at eight feet tall. It was built in the 1920s as an irrigation diversion dam, but it is now deemed unnecessary since it is blocking the salmon.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Once the dam is removed, salmon will be able to swim further along the river and allow “nutrients to flow downstream.” The removal will also help lower the risk of flooding in the area.

Michael Scott, the director of the environment program of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is joining the Yakama Nation local, state and federal agencies in the dam removals. The foundation is promoting its Open Rivers program, which is to help restore waterways by removing dams. The foundation announced on Tuesday, November 29, that it would be starting this program and would be giving $50 million to fund dam removals.

Scott stated to National Geographic, “We are not going to be funding advocacy efforts to try to take out dams, we are looking for places where the community has already come together and decided to remove a dam but they need a little extra help in getting it done.”

More the 70 percent of the United States dams will be over 50 years old by 2020. Many dams have been demolished in recent years, but many are still standing because of the tens of millions of dollars it takes to remove them.

The other dams the Hewlett Foundation plan to remove are the Matilija Dam in Ventura County, California and a series of mini dams in the Rogue River Basin in southwest Oregon.

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