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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Deadbeat Dams

Deadbeat Dams

Dam removal & Elwha River restoration, Washington State (credit: American Rivers)


What better way to celebrate rivers than with the removal of 'deadbeat dams' those outdated and derelict relics of an earlier century. To become educated on the subject, the river conservation organization American Rivers suggests viewing an example of what happened when two old dams were removed from a river in Washington State.

Maser Films produced the series, Year of the River, to document the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams in the Olympic Mountains of western Washington. The massive structures were built in the early 1900's. The series follows the recovery of the river after the dam's destruction. The projects were a turning point in long-running efforts to restore the river for salmon migrations, outdoor recreation, and to support Native American tribes that live in the region.

The speed of the Elwha's ecological recovery and the restoration of salmon runs turned out to be remarkedly rapid. The range of opportunities for further dam removals is presented in news coverage of the Elwha. There are many 'deadbeat dams' who useful life is over and could similarly be removed across the US. Doing so would return their own blocked rivers to free-flowing status once again. Bring out the engineers with their charges and get rid of the 'deadbeat dams'. WHB

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