Dam Removal - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-09-2011   #1
Sheboygan falls, Wisconsin
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 19
Dam Removal

I am trying to get a local dam removed, but I'm not sure what to do or where to start. Can anyone give me some advice or a place to start?

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Old 05-09-2011   #2
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 536
Lots of examples out there, with lots of background for each one. The Elwah (WA) has big dams, and corresponding big government studies, to restore a salmon fishery. The Sandy (OR) wasn't worth the upkeep, plus more salmon. I'm actually on the wrong side (given my other predilictions) of a dam removal on the Huron (MI) because it makes a lake used for crew training - Go Blue!

Look at cost of upkeep of the dam, safety, and benefits, compared with potential benefit of having a free-flowing river and cost of removal. There are going to be losers if a dam comes out, so making sure you mitigate their loss will keep your opposition at least less vehement.
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Old 05-09-2011   #3
rodgers712's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 27
dam removal

I just moved from the midwest look into the Team Dirt Clod forum Team Dirt Clod it has info for paddlers in Illinois Missouri Wisconsin area etc. They may be able to better inform you of local groups in your area. I know the Springfield Illinois group is a very nice group of people in particular. They usually play on a hole from a busted low head damn on the Sangamon river in Petersburg Illinois. If you need anything else let me know hope that site will help you.
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Old 05-10-2011   #4
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 92
Get in touch with American Rivers (www.americanrivers.org). American Whitewater (www.americanwhitewater.org) might also be a good organization to talk to for advice.
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Old 05-10-2011   #5
skinny kid
boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 92
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 20
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Dam Removal/Modification Projects come in all shapes and sizes. Recreation Engineering and Planning (www.boaterparks.com), specializes in these projects. Have a look at the "getting started" link on our website and check out one of our dam removal projects in Charles City, Iowa ( that is now a whitewater park with fish passage and habitat enhancement structures. Right now, the site is "closed" to boating but the fisherman are flocking to the site.

The key is getting grassroots support of the project and approaching local municipality staff such as Mayors, City Managers, City Parks and Rec Directors, etc.

We currently have multiple projects in Iowa and Michigan, and would be interested in visiting your site to determine feasibility. Feel free to call me with questions, Shane 303 808 7734
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Old 05-10-2011   #6
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little rock, Arkansas
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 461
TU has been behind several dam removals.
Home | Trout Unlimited - Conserving coldwater fisheries
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Old 05-10-2011   #7
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 1
Dam removal is tricky. There are several things to consider when contemplating removal of a physical structure form the river. Firstly, do you intend to restore/rehabilitate the river channel or do you want to enhance the channel? Restoration implies returning the river to a historic condition, which is great but may not be consistent with the current sediment or hydrologic regime of the channel. Factors such as upstream impoundments, land use changes or channel instabilities could render a noble idea moot and or possibly cause additional unforeseen consequences. Enhancement is a good option in certain scenarios where full fledged decommissionment is not an option.

Extensive permitting and coordination with regulatory authorities is necessary for these types of projects. Initially some sort of Environmental Impact Assessment should be performed to determine if the proposed project will have a detrimental impact on the adjoining channel. Once the project is in the clear, applicable city, county, state and federal permitting may be necessary. Much of this is dependent on the size of the water body and the physical structure of the dam. Proximity to endangered species is one other issue that must be addressed.

The best thing to do initially is to generate public support for the proposed project. Forming an organized group with documented membership is one way to demonstrate public support. Petitions are a second way to demonstrate support. Remember, you are going to need funding to get a project pushed through and not everyone may agree with your assessment that the existing dam is a bad thing. For this reason you have to generate political momentum for the project. Working with local agencies and getting them on board will also pay off in the long term.

Good luck!
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Old 05-10-2011   #8
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,261
I would actually start with research before moving onto membership and soliciting.

1) Research the stakeholders for which it was designed. What organization built it?
2) What purpose does it serve? Are there modern alternatives that meet this demand? Is the demand still valid?

I would spend a lot of time on this part. Fully understanding the rational for its development will only help in the long run.

As others mentioned you then have to consider:

1)Finding a base. How many people actually agree with you and are negatively affected by the structure.
2) What is the legal framework for its existence.
3) Biotic and abiotic effects (current and after removal).
4) Money. Advocating the removal of such a structure will likely take a lot of money and time.
5) Other advocates and organizations. Some good ones have already been mentioned.

This is likely a long term action no matter the size of the dam. Hope your cause is good and you get the desired outcome.

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Old 05-10-2011   #9
Sheboygan falls, Wisconsin
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 19
ok I am only 18 so i'm just going to be as professional as i can, but a lot of people are saying i'm having selfish reasons. how can i selfishly tear down a dam?
the overal whitewater wont benefit that much, but in wisconsin another 100ft can be a lot.
I'm an eagle scout and I really think the river can benefit a lot from this. I'm worried about getting looked at as a joke because i'm not an adult.
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Old 05-10-2011   #10
Woodland Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 15
First of all Jereyk, congrats. on making Eagle! Few people outside of Scouts knows how much work it takes to do that. Secound, Don't let your youth be a stumbling block. As it has been mentioned you have alot of research to do and this will take a while to complete. Next, seek out the local experts in this to use as a mentor. Their advice and encuragement will be invaluable. Finally, don't be afraid of closed doors, just move on to the next. GOOD LUCK
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