U.S. distribution of (a) existing dams listed in the National Anthropogenic Barrier Dataset (n = 50,772); (b) removed dams from the Dam Removal Inventory Project (n = 874); (c) removed dams with before-after studies (n = 63). (Foley et al. 2017).
|Roanoke Logperch. Photo by Chris Crippen.|
|Pigg River Power Dam before (photo by USFWS) and during demolition (photo by Roanoke Times)|
|Dams removed from 1999 through 2016. Source: Caffin and Gosnell (2017).|
FERC relicensing is an opportunity to analyze choices as the FPA (Energy Policy Act of 2005, Public Law 109-58 § 241) recognizes that dams have a finite, useful lifespan and should be operated under the public interest (Chaffin and Gosnell 2017). Hydroelectric project owners should request an alternative licensing process (ALP) when substantial opposition to dam relicensing indicates a lengthy, mediated conflict resolution that may lead to decommissioning. As public opposition to existing dams builds, it is important that we systematically study the effects of dam removal. Each dam removal is a different large-scale experiment. We need to learn from each one in order to fill the gaps in our science (see below). Restoring free-flowing rivers provides many new opportunities for connecting our youth with freshwater habitats.
|Kids snorkeling in a river. Photo: Jason Meador, Citizen Science Program Manager for Mainstream Conservation Trust.|