Tag Archive for 'river restoration'

A Successful Push to Restore Europe’s Long-Abused Rivers

Photo retrieved from: www.e360.yale.edu

“From the industrial cities of Britain to the forests of Sweden, from the plains of Spain to the shores of the Black Sea, Europe is restoring its rivers to their natural glory. The most densely populated continent on earth is finding space for nature to return along its river banks.

The restoration is not perfect. River floodplains cannot be fully restored when they contain cities, and hydroelectric dams are still needed. But Europe’s fluvial highways are becoming the test bed for conservation biologist Edward O. Wilson’s dream that the 21st century should be “the era of restoration in ecology.”

The political imperative is strong, with the 2000 European Union’s Water Framework Directive requiring that all rivers be returned to a “good status” by 2015. The phrase is not defined, but the idea is that rivers should no longer be used as industrial sewers or as canalized and concreted shipping lanes. The change has been dramatic. While water engineers in Europe have been cleansing rivers of pollution for half a century, they now are trying to restore them to something like their natural state.

Britain, for instance, has promised to restore some 1,500 kilometers of rivers. It has 2,700 projects in its National River Restoration Inventory, 1,500 of them already completed.”

Read more: Yale Environment 360

Dams Power Down In The Largest US Dam Removal

Elwha Dam. Photo retrieved from: www.moldychum.com

“The Elwha River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula once teemed with legendary salmon runs before two towering concrete dams built nearly a century ago cut off fish access to upstream habitat, diminished their runs and altered the ecosystem.

On June 1, nearly two decades after Congress called for full restoration of the river and its fish runs, federal workers will turn off the generators at the 1913 dam powerhouse and set in motion the largest dam removal project in U.S. history.

Contractors will begin dismantling the dams this fall, a $324.7 million project that will take about three years and eventually will allow the 45-mile Elwha River to run free as it courses from the Olympic Mountains through old-growth forests into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“We’re going to let this river be wild again,” said Amy Kober, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group American Rivers. “The generators may be powering down, but the river is about to power up.”

The 105-foot Elwha Dam also came on line in 1913, followed 14 years later by the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam eight miles upstream. For years, they provided electricity to a local pulp and paper mill and the growing city of Port Angeles, Wash., about 80 miles west of Seattle. Electricity from the dams – enough to power about 1,700 homes – currently feeds the regional power grid.

A Washington state law required fish passage facilities, but none was built. So all five native species of Pacific salmon and other anadromous fish that mature in the ocean and return to rivers to spawn were confined to the lower five miles of the river. A hatchery was built but lasted only until 1922.

The fish are particularly important to members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, whose ancestors have occupied the Elwha Valley for generations and whose members recall stories of 100-pound Chinook salmon so plentiful you could walk across the river on their backs.”

Read more: Associated Press


Water managers brace for more dry times


Photo retrieved from: alhann.com

“His boots dusty from walking along the banks of the Rio Grande, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor scanned the water’s edge and watched a flush of ducks pass before listening to a detailed explanation of the recent work that went into revitalizing this stretch of river in central New Mexico.

“The ground remained bare where earth was moved to lower the banks to a more natural state. The dry skeletons of cottonwood trees were place in the river to provide cover for endangered fish. And behind Connor, the thinned forest of cottonwoods and willows showed signs of recovery after a few years of not having to compete with invasive nonnative vegetation.

“The restoration work along Sandia Pueblo’s section of the Rio Grande is just the latest effort by tribal, state and federal water managers as they grapple with persistent drought across the West, the uncertainties of climate change, endangered species concerns and growing demand for a limited resource.”

Read more: SF Gate

Congressman tries to cut dam removal study

Photo retrieved from: ConservationAlliance.com

“GRANTS PASS, Ore.—A California congressman tried Thursday to block removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River by eliminating funding for a key study.

“In Washington, D.C., Republican U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock succeeded in putting an amendment into the House continuing resolution Wednesday that cut $1.9 million from the Department of the Interior budget for the rest of this year.

“McClintock planned to offer a second amendment Thursday to specifically target the study being done so that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar can decide whether to go ahead with removing the dams as part of a landmark agreement to open hundreds of miles of spawning habitat for struggling salmon blocked for a century, assure water for farmers on a federal irrigation project, and restore the ecology of the Klamath Basin.

“At a time we can’t guarantee enough electricity to keep people’s air conditioning going, the idea of tearing down four perfectly good hydroelectric dams turning out 155 megawatts of power . is insane,” McClintock told The Associated Press from Washington, D.C.”

read more: Silicon Valley Mercury News

Communities Improving Public Safety through River Restoration

“American Rivers today released the new film, “Restoring America’s Rivers: Preparing for the Future,” which tells the inspiring story of how community leaders around the country are improving public safety and solving problems like flooding by restoring rivers and working with nature, not against it.

“The film examines four communities in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington where dams are being removed and levees set back in an effort to restore floodplains and give rivers room to spread out, while making communities safer and more resilient to weather extremes, and restoring vital habitat for fish and wildlife.

“These communities realized that the best, most cost-effective way to reduce flood damage and improve public safety was to remove outdated dams and restore the rivers,” said Serena McClain, associate director of river restoration for American Rivers. “Our goal is for every mayor in the country to see this film. We hope the stories will spur them to explore river restoration in their own communities.”

read more: American Rivers