No. 31, November 19, 2001

River Revival Bulletin
No 31, November 19, 2001

Produced by: River Revival, International Rivers
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703 USA

Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak

table of contents








Scott's Peak Dam, Lake Pedder, Australia
Restoration of the Gordon River in Tasmanian World Heritage Area

Hydro Tasmania would spend $1.5 million annually to stop any impact by Basslink on the Gordon River. The spending plan, for up to nine years, was announced as the hearing into the $500 million Bass Strait electricity cable entered its second week. "Hydro Tasmania will spend $1.5 million annually on the monitoring and mitigation program . . . [It] should result in a real improvement in the river system," said Hydro senior environmental consultant Helen Locher. But submissions by the Greens at the hearing instead called for Hydro Tasmania to honor the river's World Heritage Area status and look to scale back its industrial presence. Outside the hearing, Greens spokeswoman Christine Milne said: "They are going to run the [Gordon River] power station much harder than it has been run, with more on-off scenarios. "It will see a fast rise and then a decline in the river levels, impacting on vegetation and in erosion for the river's islands." The Gordon River power scheme was built before the region's classification as a World Heritage Area in 1982. Ms. Milne said the WHA convention recognized pre-existing hydro schemes, "but its ultimate aim is to restore the WHA to its highest level of integrity." She said this included the eventual removal Scott's Peak Dam infrastructure and the restoration of Lake Pedder.

(Rose, Danny, "Hydro pledge on Basslink $1.5m to stop impact on river," The Mercury, 15 October 2001)

us - california

Dam removal success story in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

For 25 years, the annual return of chinook salmon to Butte Creek brought waves of anxiety to game warden Lt. Gayland Taylor. He watched the 20-pound fish throw themselves against concrete dams, knowing the abuse would kill many before they could spawn. He and his sons splashed in the creek, scaring salmon away from the irrigation canals that would have carried them to certain death in the rice fields of the Sacramento Valley. And he hesitated to go home at the end of a shift, knowing that 300 salmon of a run of only 500 were backed against a dam. "It was absolutely critical that you treat each fish as the last one," Taylor said. Today, with the fall-run chinook salmon powering up Butte Creek again, Taylor sees something he said he could not have dreamed of 10 years ago. Salmon move freely, spawning where dams once stood. Four dams are gone. The remaining five dams on the creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, are equipped with modern fish ladders that ease passage. Butte Creek is just one stream. But the effort to restore the salmon here is the first sign of success from a massive project to restore the environment of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Overall, the Metropolitan Water District has put $30 million toward environmental restoration projects, including $4 million that covered about one-third of the cost of the Butte Creek restoration. The money has helped pay for restoration on other salmon streams. On Battle Creek, for example, five dams are proposed to be torn down in the next several years.

(Vogel, Nancy, "Salmon runs a sign of healthier delta: The conviction that restoring rivers in the north will mean
stable water supplies for Southern California underlies the huge project," LA Times, 6 November 2001. Found on-line at:

Dam-raising not a foregone conclusion for CALFED

A proposal to raise the Shasta Dam figured prominently in an agreement between US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer on a bill to provide about $3 billion to the CALFED Bay-Delta Program. After Boxer objected, Feinstein removed language in her bill that would have automatically approved the dam-raising and two other projects under CALFED, the state and federal effort to map California's water future. An approximately $120 million effort to raise Shasta Dam by six feet, which would help provide water for an additional 600,000 California households, was part of an $8.6 billion ecosystem and water-supply improvement package finalized by state and federal agency leaders last year. Now the two San Francisco Democrats will sponsor a new bill that will give Congress 180 days to consider the dam project, once it clears environmental reviews. The same will apply to plans to enlarge the Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County, and flood two islands in the San Francisco Bay Delta to increase water storage. "They'll have to go through the same process that all other projects go through," Boxer spokesman David Sandretti said. "One of the problems Senator Boxer envisions is that ... if we shortchange the process, that would open it up to litigation. That would end up delaying the projects regardless of how they're seen as far as their quality."

(Hearden, Tim, "CALFED process moves forward," Scripps Howard News Service, 12 October 2001.)

Lopez Lake Dam, Arroyo Grande Creek, CA
Dam retrofit costs nearly double original construction bill

On May 20, 1967, three sticks of dynamite exploded in Lopez Canyon, marking the groundbreaking for the $16 million project to build the Lopez Lake Dam. A groundbreaking ceremony on October 5, 2001, began a $26 million project to make the dam meet today's earthquake safety standards. "As far as anything the county has constructed, this will be the largest project in history," county Public Works Director Noel King said. The state Division of Safety of Dams told the county to stabilize the dam or lower the water level behind it, which would eliminate a major source of drinking water for the local Five Cities area. State officials concluded Lopez Lake Dam was susceptible to liquefaction, a condition in which some soils can liquefy during an earthquake and lose the ability to hold up the dam. In addition to providing drinking water, the lake maintains groundwater supplies for agriculture, prevents flooding and is used by nearly 500,000 people annually for recreation. The work is designed to make the dam strong enough to withstand a 7.0 earthquake on the closest fault, the West Huasna Fault, which runs about a half mile from the dam. Plans include removing 400,000 cubic yards of unstable soil, inserting 2,000 stone columns into the dam's foundation, replacing 900,000 cubic yards of soil and increasing the width of the dam's crest from its current 40 feet to 170 feet.

(Bunin, Jerry, "Ground broken to shore up Lopez Lake Dam: County's largest project to boost quake standards," San Luis Obispo County Tribune, 6 October 2001.)

us - northwest

Avista gains new licenses for dams on the Clark Fork

Elsewhere around the country the relicensing of dams often has deteriorated into polarization, lawsuits and paralysis. That didn't happen, however, when Avista Utilities successfully relicensed its two largest dams on the Clark Fork River. Avista invited the public to help determine what role the dams will play in the future by inviting all interested parties to the table and making significant investments to address their concerns. Avista won relicensing of its Clark Fork dams, whose federal licenses for expire in 2007. The dams that are at issue maintain Lake Coeur d'Alene and Long Lake, and regulate the water for Spokane Falls, Riverfront Park and the Centennial Trail. Some services provided by the dams include contributions to the local tourism industry, real estate investments, and recreation. However, the amount of electricity the dams generate is modest. Also at issue is the sediment resting at the bottom of these reservoirs. Metals washed downstream from North Idaho mining can be found in these sediments.

(Webster, John, "Avista has shown process can work," The Spokesman-Review, 24 October 2001.)

Milltown Reservoir Dam, Clark Fork River, MO
Environmentalists, business debate the future of Milltown Reservoir Dam

Behind a dam nearly a century old, and below a calm surface where residents canoe and fish for pike, lies enough mud contaminated with toxic metals to cover an NFL stadium and some of its parking lot. Downstream from the dam is Missoula, Montana's second-largest city. For environmentalists, the choice is clear: remove the sediment, tear down the dam, return the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers to their natural state. For others, the decision is not so easy. Removing a dam that restrains 6.6 million cubic yards of sediment contaminated with arsenic, copper, lead and other metals is a feat they fear will make things worse. The dam and its Milltown Reservoir are the terminus of the nation's largest Superfund environmental cleanup site, the resting place for decades of mine waste that washed 120 miles down the Clark Fork River from Butte and Anaconda. What to do with the contaminated sediment, and the dam that holds it all back, has become the focus of a growing debate between environmentalists and business. For long-term river health, removing the sediment and the dam is "absolutely the right thing to do," said Tracy Stone-Manning, executive director of the Clark Fork Coalition, an environmental group.

For more information, visit the Clark Fork Coalition at (you can also take action here in support of Milltown Dam's removal!), or the EPA at

(Gallagher, Susan, "Environmentalists, Business Debate," Associated Press, 21 October 2001.)

Libby Dam, Kootenai River, ID
Dam decommissioning needed to save sturgeon from extinction

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has published a final rule designating 11.2 miles of the Kootenai River in northern Idaho as critical habitat for the endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon. The proposed area contains the only known spawning and early-life stage rearing sites for the species. The designation resulted from a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in 1999. But the conservation group says the newly protected habitat will not keep the sturgeon from extinction. White sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish in North America. The Kootenai River white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1994. The fish migrates freely in the Kootenai River from Kootenai Falls in Montana downstream into Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, Canada. This population is considered a genetically distinct, interbreeding population that has been isolated from other white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River Basin for about 10,000 years. In April, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Ecology Center, and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to call for the decommissioning of the Libby Dam to save the endangered Kootenai River White Sturgeon from extinction. In a statement last January, the Center said, "The sturgeon stopped spawning in 1974. Virtually all remaining fish are at least 25 years old. If the ecosystem is not restored, the sturgeon will go extinct due to old age in about 2025."

(Environmental News Network, "Kootenai River sturgeon critical habitat not enough to prevent extinction," 13 September 2001. Full text at:

Elwha River dams, WA
Congress approves funding to improve habitat of endangered salmon

A bill with millions of dollars to improve the habitat for endangered Pacific salmon and other land management projects is on its way to President Bush's desk. The House and Senate passed the $19.1 billion Interior spending bill on October 17, rushing to get work done before the House shut down and the Senate closed its buildings to allow experts to test for possible anthrax risks. The bill contains more than $14 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance fish habitat and protect salmon runs in the Northwest. It includes money for research on bull trout habitat and hatchery reform. Almost $26 million is also devoted to the Elwha River project to restore what were once the most robust salmon runs on the Olympic Peninsula. It will allow for the design of a plan to remove two dams on the river. And some $4 million in the Bureau of Indian Affairs will go toward a program to aid tribal health, salmon and economic development. Steve Moyer, vice president of Trout Unlimited, a conservation group, said he thought the bill contained what he had a reasonable right to expect. But "for fish people there is never enough money ... for fish," he said.

(Pfleger, Katherine, "Congress approves funding to improve habitat of endangered salmon," The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 19 October 2001.)

Columbia River Basin dams, WA
Irrigators push for repeal of salmon regulations

Bolstered by a recent federal court ruling in Oregon, Columbia Basin irrigators are asking the government to strip seven salmon and steelhead runs of their protected status. The ruling by US District Judge Michael R. Hogan removed coastal coho salmon from a list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act. The decision suggests that because hatchery and wild coho salmon have the same genetic make-up, their numbers should be combined when considering whether to give the species protected status. Environmentalists contend hatchery salmon are weaker than wild ones, and that the wild fish should be considered separately and protected. In a petition submitted in late September, the irrigators asked the National Marine Fisheries Service to strip protections for steelhead, spring-summer chinook, sockeye and fall chinook on the Snake River, along with middle Columbia steelhead, upper Columbia steelhead and upper Columbia spring chinook. They also asked the agency to abandon salmon management in the Northwest altogether, and leave the matter to states and tribes. "With the largest salmon runs observed this year since dam counts began in 1938, the time is ripe for reconsidering application of the Endangered Species Act to Pacific salmon stocks," wrote Portland lawyer James Buchal. The fisheries service has interpreted its mission as recovery for "natural populations" of fish.

(Associated Press, "Irrigators push for repeal of salmon regulations," 29 September 2001.)

Chiloquin Dam, Sprague River, OR
Klamath Basin debate continues on several fronts

Despite anthrax concerns on Capitol Hill, the House Resources Committee managed to mark up a bill seeking to help solve Oregon's Klamath Basin water problems. The committee passed Representative Greg Walden's (R-Ore.) Chiloquin Dam Fish Passage Feasibility Study Act (H.R. 2585), which directs the secretary of Interior to conduct a feasibility study on methods to improve upstream and downstream fish passage at the Chiloquin Dam on Oregon's Sprague River. "The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that the dam blocks 95 percent of the spawning habitat for endangered shortnose and Lost River suckerfish," Walden's office said in a statement. Because of those endangered species, in April the Bureau of Reclamation cut off irrigation water to Oregon farmers so the water could be used to instead replenish suckerfish and coho salmon habitat. The study is to include all possible fish passage alternatives, including improved fish ladders and removing the Chiloquin Dam. The Interior secretary has one year to complete the study. Groups from both sides of the water-use debate have stated their support for the bill, including KWUA, which represents Oregon farmers, Klamath Native American tribes, Oregon Trout and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

For more information, visit WaterWatch of Oregon at:

(Stempeck, Brian, "Klamath Basin debate continues on several fronts," Greenwire, 18 October 2001.)

us - midwest

Baraboo River officially "running free"

In October 2001, history was made in Baraboo, Wisconsin. With the clank of backhoe against concrete, the Linen Mill Dam, the final dam on the Baraboo River, was dismantled, restoring the entire Baraboo River, all 115 miles of it, to free-flowing condition. The Baraboo River is now officially the longest mainstem of a river returned to free-flowing through dam removal in American history. There is a lot to celebrate in this achievement. The Baraboo River Restoration was a six-year campaign involving a vast number stakeholders including the City of Baraboo, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, River Alliance of Wisconsin, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sand County Foundation and other agencies and groups who worked tirelessly to purchase and remove the final four dams on the river. It is being held as a model of dam removal where everyone wins and all parties, local, state and federal, play an important role in the process. "This was a long time in coming and is a tribute to all of the hard work of many partners," said River Alliance of Wisconsin executive director Todd Ambs. "The free-flowing Baraboo River is rapidly healing itself proving what we have often said - if you remove the dams, the fish will come. Selective dam removal is one of the best tools we have for restoring the health of rivers throughout Wisconsin." Changes have come indeed, with documented increases in fish diversity from 11 to 26 species and larger populations of darters and smallmouth bass upstream of the dams. Wisconsin leads the country in dam removal, with 100 deteriorating structures taken down in the last 35 years.

For more information, visit the River Alliance of Wisconsin at E-mail River Alliance at, or contact their Small Dams Program Manager, Helen Sarakinos, at 608.257.2424.

(Sandin, Jo, "After 150 years, dams no longer interrupt Baraboo River," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 23 October 2001.)

Fish ladders bring new life to streams in Iowa

Gary Siegwarth sees the future in the idea of fish ladders. The Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist wants people to know how they can revitalize dozens of Iowa streams and the aquatic species that are often missing from them. At Quasqueton in Buchanan County, a flooded 'stairway' ascends the west bank of the Wapsipinicon River adjacent to the old dam. The just completed fish ladder links upstream and downstream stretches of the Wapsi. At the top, it links with a culvert, directing water from the upstream side down the cobbled platforms. "We have a set of riffle pools that the fish use," Siegwarth points out. "They can use a quick burst of speed to get up the fast moving water, then rest in the pool before 'stairstepping' the rapids into succeeding pools." "Fish migrate for three reasons: for spawning, for feed purposes and for overwinter habitat," explains Siegwarth. Of the three urges, it is the overwintering instinct that is critical. "From our radio telemetry data, we see mass concentrations of game species overwintering in very specific kinds of deep water habitat," stresses Siegwarth. "If they can't migrate to these areas, there is a great deal of mortality. Just having water doesn't necessarily guarantee good habitat." That's because fish have to utilize the limited downstream wintering areas. Any good angler will tell you that at certain times of the year, the fishing just below a dam is excellent. Often, that is because fish are stacked up, trying to get upstream through an unyielding dam.

(Wilkinson, Joe, "Fish ladders bring new life to streams," The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 11 October 2001.)

Fisheries booming in Great Lakes

The rains finally came and with them a wave of chinook salmon up Great Lakes spawning tributaries. It's a success story of lamprey control, stream rehabilitation, dam removal, fishway construction and stocking programs by government and angler groups. Since cold-water fisheries started to rebound from Lake Superior to Lake Ontario during the 1980s and '90s, fishing success has soared. Offshore summer charter businesses have sprung up, along with salmon-fishing contests, such as the Toronto Sun's Great Ontario Salmon Derby, and each spring and fall shorebound anglers get a crack at big fish entering rivers. In some cases, such as rainbow trout, fisheries have become self-sustaining, with critical spawning areas off-limits to anglers in the spring when these fish reproduce. Rainbows can return to spawn several times. All Pacific salmon die after spawning in the fall. Allowing Lake Ontario salmon to be caught during the spawning season isn't a conservation concern. Although there's some natural reproduction, stocking has been the key to maintaining Pacific salmon here, often near urban areas with few other fish for anglers.

(Kerr, John, "Fisheries booming in Great Lakes," The Toronto Sun, 27 September 2001.)

us - northeast

GreenWorks' episode focuses on watersheds

The October episode of the Emmy-award-winning television series "GreenWorks for Pennsylvania" features stories about people working to protect Pennsylvania's watersheds. "Raising awareness of the role watersheds play in our environment is one of the cornerstones of Pennsylvania's 'Growing Greener' program," Secretary Hess said. "The current episode of 'GreenWorks' features people of all ages learning about, protecting and restoring Pennsylvania's watersheds. "GreenWorks," produced in a video-magazine format, takes viewers across the Commonwealth to spotlight people doing positive things for the environment. "GreenWorks" is supported by DEP and the Environmental Fund for Pennsylvania (EFP).

For a listing of stations carrying "GreenWorks" and information on particular broadcasts, visit the "GreenWorks" website at, or call EFP at 1-800-PAGREEN ext. 1.

(Newswire, "GreenWorks' Episode Focuses On Watersheds," 17 October 2001.)

Draft FERC report claims dam removal would marginally help fish

According to a draft environmental statement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the removal of three of the five dams on the middle stretch of the Presumpscot River would only marginally benefit fisheries. The 275-page report recommends the relicensing of the five dams and says fish passages should not be built on any of the dams until fish are "fully utilizing" the habitat downstream. FERC has the authority to issue a license for up to 50 years. The owner of the dams, Sappi Fine Paper North America, had argued that fish ladders aren't needed on any of the dams. Sappi officials declined to comment on the draft statement. The report is not final, but runs counter to the cause of conservationists who want the dams removed. Dusti Faucher, president of Friends of the Presumpscot River, said the recommendation on the fish passages is unworkable and would delay river restoration for at least 20 years. Faucher's group wants the removal of the three smallest dams - those at Saccarappa, Mallison Falls and Little Falls - and fish passages installed on the two larger dams, Gambo Dam and Dundee Dam. Smelt Hill Dam at tidewater in Falmouth is not owned by Sappi, and is scheduled to be breached in the summer.

For more information, visit Friends of the Presumpscot River at:

(Associated Press, "Draft report says dam removal would be marginal help to fish," 24 October 2001.)

Clean up rivers and Atlantic salmon will come

Things are bad for wild Atlantic salmon all over, but that doesn't mean people should stop trying to help the fish, which are classified as endangered in Maine in eight rivers. That was the message at a salmon habitat workshop at the University of Maine that drew experts from the West Coast, Canada and Europe. Maine has the last wild Atlantic salmon in the United States. Of the 2,005 known wild Atlantic salmon rivers in the world, nearly 300 have lost their fish completely. Another 403 have populations that are endangered and populations are in critical conditions on another 236 rivers. Salmon have become extinct in 294 rivers. The vast majority of the healthy populations are in only four countries - Norway, Iceland, Ireland and Scotland. These figures are from a just released report on the status of salmon put together by the World Wildlife Foundation. One success story happened on the River Tweed in Scotland. The Tweed Foundation, a charitable group set up by the government to care for the river, has devoted much of its money and energy to removing impediments to salmon's upstream travel. It disassembled dams, rebuilt bridges and dug up culverts. In some cases salmon returned to the river just a year after the impediment was removed, said Duncan Glen, the foundation's director. Increasing the number of fish in the River Tweed was important because it had a direct financial impact on the local economy, he said. The rural area is heavily dependent on tourism, and fishing accounts for 70 percent of the region's outdoor recreation. Up to 10,000 Atlantic salmon are caught in the river each year.

(Young, Susan, "Clean up rivers, say experts, and Atlantic salmon will come," Bangor Daily News, 16 October 2001.)

us - southeast

River groups sue Corps over dam

Seven conservation groups filed suit against the US Army Corps of Engineers in late October, asking the court to revoke a permit issued to Eastern Arkansas' Searcy County to construct a dam on one of the largest tributaries to the Buffalo National River. The groups want the Corps to consult with the National Park Service about potential impacts to this protected river before deciding whether or not to allow Searcy County to construct the water supply dam. On August 3, the Army Corps issued the permit -- overruling the Little Rock District Office, which had twice rejected the application. The Corps failed to consult with the National Park Service before issuing the permit, the groups say. In addition, the Clean Water Act prohibits the Corps from issuing this permit when other less damaging alternatives are available, the suit charges. Another Arkansas county has offered to supply water to Searcy City from an existing water reservoir by constructing a 37-mile pipeline. In addition to numerous local citizens and the plaintiffs on the suit, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the National Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Environmental Protection Agency have expressed concerns with the dam. "By law, the National Park Service should make the call whether the dam would harm the scenic, recreational, and fish and wildlife values of the Buffalo National River," said Don Barger with the National Parks Conservation Association.

(Environmental News Service, "River groups sue Corps over dam," 24 October 2001.)