No. 96, July 27, 2009

Produced by: River Revival, International Rivers
Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak

Table of Contents









River restoration is the core of Korea's 'Green New Deal'

To confront a world threatened by global warming, natural disasters, unemployment and the economic crisis, the Korean government has responded with a scheme to restore four major rivers - the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan. This multipurpose, Korean-style "Green New Deal" project is designed to prevent natural disasters and help overcome the national economic crisis. River restoration in Korea began to receive attention after a major dike collapsed, resulting in repeated suffering from floods and droughts. Between 1999 and 2008, around 8.8 trillion won ($5.7 billion) was invested in river restoration. This is only 11 percent of the 77.9 trillion won used to build roads, and 24 percent of the 36.4 trillion won injected to construct railways during the same period. President Lee Myung-bak stressed the significance of the project, saying it was for the rebirth of our rivers. The plan is to renew the neglected rivers so that they can perform their original functions, which will fundamentally resolve water problems related to floods and droughts, improve water quality and restore ecosystems. Moreover, river restoration will promote the use of the rivers as cultural and tourism resources and help revitalize local economies by creating new jobs through sustainable eco-friendly businesses.

(Kim, Hee-kuk (editorial) , "Green Growth:Korea's New Strategy (2)]4 river restoration core of 'Green New Deal'," The Korea Herald,, 09 March 2009.)


Green billions fertilize the US economic stimulus package

The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in February will create green jobs, according to the US Environmental protection Agency (EPA). "Through the President's stimulus package, green initiatives will play a significant role in powering economic recovery," said Lisa Jackson. The act specifically includes $7.22 billion for projects and programs administered by the EPA. Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has estimated that the recovery package will save or create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. "EPA's portion of the plan will create good, sustainable jobs that help produce cleaner drinking water, purer air, environmentally friendly urban and rural re-development, and reduced greenhouse gases," said Jackson. "This is an unprecedented amount of money for clean water and rivers," said Betsy Otto, vice president of strategic partnerships American Rivers. "It's a real investment in more sustainable water infrastructure for the future, and it will boost health, safety and quality of life in communities across the country."

(Environmental News Service (ENS), "Green Billions Fertilize the US Economic Stimulus Package,", 20 February 2009.)


Update: Former Nevada brothel site targeted for river project

A panel of local officials has approved a $7.2 million river restoration project at the former site of the infamous Mustang Ranch brothel east of Reno, Nevada. The Flood Project Coordinating Committee took the action in a push to complete a long-awaited Truckee River flood control project. Plans call for the river ecosystem to be restored to a natural condition on the land where the Mustang Ranch was located. Improvements will include cutting new meanders into the river channel. When finished, the restored site will help floodwaters spread naturally over the landscape, improving fish habitat and boosting water quality. The area is the site of Nevada's first legalized brothel, founded by Joe Conforte in 1971 and operated until 1999 when the federal government seized it after guilty verdicts against its parent companies and manager in a federal fraud and racketeering trial. The property was subsequently obtained by the US Bureau of Land Management. The pink stucco buildings that once housed the bordello were moved down river to the site of another brothel, after being sold in 2003. Other restoration projects are planned at 11 locations along the lower Truckee River, which flows more than 100 miles eastward from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.

(The Associated Press, "Former NV brothel site targeted for river project," Reno Gazette-Journal,, 14 February 2009.)


Coal Creek rebirth: Just add explosives

Early in September an explosion leveled a 30-foot dam on a tributary of the Kilchis River in Tillamook County. That's a good thing. The blast, so powerful it destroyed two remote cameras set up to record it, was intentional -- set to remove the unneeded dam that for nearly six decades blocked Coal Creek, a key salmon stream. It worked perfectly. What has since impressed biologists is how quickly the coastal stream has bulldozed the river back into its natural shape. Chris Knutsen, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department's district biologist in Tillamook, thought it might take a few years after the dam demolition before the stream was suitable for fish again. But biologists found even more chum salmon in the stream after the dam came down last year than in the year before. That underscores observations on the Sandy River east of Portland, where Portland General Electric removed a dam in 2007 and scientists watched with surprise as the river digested 150 Olympic-size swimming pools worth of sediment within months. "It doesn't take long for these streams to retake their own path," Knutsen said. "This is great progress. It was a win-win for everybody." The creek supports coho, chinook, steelhead and cutthroat and is one of the biggest producers of chum salmon in Tillamook County, with biologists counting more than 800 chum some years in less than two miles of stream. Gordon Grant, a research hydrologist at the US Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station said as more and more older dams are removed to benefit fish, it's become clearer that rivers rework themselves quickly. "Where the dam is relatively small, it's a quick response," he said. "The river quickly forgets."

(Milstein, Michael, "Coal Creek rebirth: Just add explosives," The Oregonian,, 08 February 2009.)

$603,000 Lewis River project washed away

Late last summer, workers picked up and moved a portion of the East Fork of the Lewis River so they could re-invent its channel. Excavators scooped material from a gravel bar on the north side of the river and moved it to a 1,200-foot-long reach on the south side. They piled it all ó 8 feet high and 8 acres in size ó against the base of a badly eroding bluff. From there, they placed boulders the size of small cars and 40-foot logs across the dry river bed to direct the flow away from the cliff, where a half-dozen homes teetered on the edge. Within four months, the river washed it all away. The Columbian's review of government records found that state and federal fish agencies had voiced serious misgivings about how well the project would work. Despite their reservations, regulators permitted a project that was strongly advocated by landowners, a well-connected fish-recovery group and a state senator who has carved out a reputation as a budget-cutting hawk. The demise of the cliff bank project, which is just one phase of an even-more ambitious plan to reshape the East Fork, sent a $575,000 investment by taxpayers swirling down the river. Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, defended his role in securing state money. Yet in the weeks before the project was to begin, state officials repeatedly questioned the durability of the project that had been envisioned for the site. One reviewer had called the strategy "a collection of 'gimmicks' and manipulations that may not be able to withstand the large flows that are occasionally carried by the East Fork Lewis River."

(Robinson, Erik, "Lewis River; $603,000 river project washed away; Officials had misgiving about how well it would work," Columbian,, 19 February 2009.)

Update: Klamath price cap bill passes Oregon Senate committee

Craig Tucker, spokesman for the Karuk Tribe, reported that Oregon SB 76, the Klamath Price Cap Bill, passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee on a 4-1 vote today. Oregon SB 76, the Klamath Price Cap Bill introduced by Governor Ted Kulongoski, passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee on a 4-1 vote today. It will likely be considered by the full Senate early next week, according to Craig Tucker, spokesman for the Karuk Tribe. SB 76 would cap PacifiCorp's CA and OR ratepayers' financial liabilities associated with Klamath River dam removal at $200 million. This money would be collected over the course of the next 10 years and used to remove dams in 2020 if PacifiCorp and Klamath stakeholders can reach a final dam removal agreement this summer. "Ratepayer advocates support the bill as the Public Utility Commission would have to deem any expenses for dam removal or otherwise to meet a just, reasonable, and prudent standard," said Tucker. "In addition, the cost of dam relicensing is predicted to far exceed $200 million with estimates from state agencies ranging as high as $470 million." "The diverse groups supporting the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement see the passage of the bill as a big step towards implementing a basin-wide settlement agreement that would remove the lower four Klamath River dams, implement a water sharing agreement, and provide economic assistance to Tribal and agricultural communities," added Tucker. For more information, contact: S. Craig Tucker, Ph.D., Klamath Campaign Coordinator, Karuk Tribe of California, NEW NUMBER home office: 707-839-1982, Tribal office in Orleans: 530-627-3446 x3027, cell: 916-207-8294, ctucker [at]

(Bacher, Dan, "Klamath Price Cap Bill Passes Senate Committee Today," San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center,, 10 February 2009.)

Update: Clark Fork River returning to health after Milltown Dam removal

Anglers know it's all about the waiting. And there's still some waiting left to do before they get free run of the Clark Fork River above now-gone Milltown Dam. "We still refer to the site as 'the dam,' even though there's no dam there anymore," said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist David Schmetterling, who's been studying the fishery there for the past 12 years. In March, a coffer dam will be breeched, allowing the Clark Fork to re-enter its natural channel underneath a bluff on the side of University Mountain. This is only expected to lower the flow about 2 feet, compared with the nearly 25-foot drop that occurred when Milltown Dam was breeched last year. Bug and fish activity will remain in flux for the next several years. The heavy sediment flush last year dropped bug populations about 60 percent by the Sha-Ron fishing access just below the dam site. Anglers also reported many holes had filled in with sand while others have been scoured out, changing fish patterns. The dam removal project has not only eliminated 2.2 million tons of toxic sediment that had built up behind it, it's given the fish new freedom to move up and down the river and colonize new territory. It has also delivered a blow to the trout-eating pike population, which was thriving in the old reservoir.

(Chaney, Rob, "Fishing guides eager to reap benefits of Milltown Dam removal," Missoulian,, 05 February 2009.)

Update: Federal judge weighs in on salmon conservation in the Columbia Basin

A federal judge determined that the agency in charge of saving salmon in the Columbia River Basin from extinction should have a plan in place to remove dams on the lower Snake River if necessary. There has been a long running dispute over how to balance energy and utility needs in the Columbia Basin with salmon and steelhead populations. US District Court Judge James Redden said he has not eliminated the possibility that the hydroelectric dams could come down to ensure restoration and survival of imperiled salmon and steelhead in the basin. The former Bush Administration vowed the dams would stay, and the current administration led by President Barack Obama has not made a decision regarding the issue. The current 10-year federal plan aims to improve fish passage through the dams, but lawsuits have been filed, arguing that the plan does too little to restore salmon populations and could ensure extinction of those fish. Over the past century, overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and dam construction have caused Columbia Basin salmon returns - once numbered an estimated 10 million to 30 million - to plunge. Numerous populations have succumbed to extinction, while 13 are listed as threatened or endangered.

(Redorbit staff and wire reports, "Federal Judge Weighs In On Salmon Conservation," Redorbit News,, 09 March 2009.)


Officials plan Ballville Dam removal on Sandusky River

More than 100 years ago, the Sandusky River was a winding, rocky stream brimming with walleye, muskellunge, the now-endangered lake sturgeon and other fish species that made their way through its ripples and small rapids to the Sandusky Bay. So bountiful were the fish that the Native Americans living in the area set up a fish trap where the Ballville Dam exists today, says James Evans, geology professor at Bowling Green State University. The river's ecosystem changed and the catch thinned in 1911, when a power company built the Ballville Dam to generate electricity. Since then, the dam, located about six miles from the river's mouth, has been the great divider for the Sandusky River. The shallow pool of water above it acts as a reservoir for the city's water supply, creating a wide, lake-like area. Below the dam are the rocky, rapid areas, where walleyes and other fish still spawn. By 2013, city and state officials plan to see the dam gone and the area returned to a more natural habitat. The dam has not been used to generate electricity in more than 60 years. It has fallen into disrepair, creating liability issues and potential expenses for the city.

(Horn, Kristina smith, "Removal of dam complicated; Water quality, fishing among reasons for demolition," The News Messenger,, 07 February 2009.)

Project aims to restore Kansas' Smoky Hill River

The Smoky Hill River ran through the town of Salina, Kansas until it flooded in 1951. The river has since been diverted and largely forgotten, accumulating trash and stagnant water. But now a group of citizens is changing that with a project focused building public interest in restoring the river. The head of the design team for the river restoration project was a guest speaker at at a downtown meeting, laying out his vision based on work in other communities."My hope and dream is that the community would see a value in renovating the river and bringing it back so that it's healthy once again and that they can use it and enjoy it for future generations," said Don Brandes of Design Studios West, Inc. Brandes says he's impressed with the history of the Smoky Hill River and wants to bring that back by reminding people what it once meant to the community."Very often a resort will create a new entity and now, the city doesn't need to do anything," Brandes said. "They have the resource here in the river." He envisions a large-scale project with many phases happening over many years, making the river accessible with walking paths, fishing docks and commercial developments. It would be a river that's incorporated into a city, rather than ignored.

(Oakley, Jessica, "Project aims to restore Smoky Hill River,", 03 March 2009.)

Update: Healthier Cuyahoga River gets a new voice

River restoration leaders boast that the managed comeback of the Cuyahoga River is an environmental coup: a once-dead river infamous for catching fire 40 years ago is now thriving. However, the Cuyahoga is still failing in eight of 14 US Environmental Protection Agency measurements of river health. And chances are that the Cuyahoga may never pass them all. "There are just some standards that a river running through a suburban and urban area is not likely to ever meet," said Bill Zawiski, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency scientist. Suburban runoff leads to algae growth despite multibillion-dollar efforts to catch and treat the water. Another management effort has made environmental planner Maia Peck the new voice of the Middle Cuyahoga River. ''Being the voice of the river is very charming. . .and it is an honorable title to hold,'' she said. Peck is the watershed coordinator for a 12-mile section of the Cuyahoga and its tributaries. One of 32 state-designated stream coordinators across Ohio, Peck intends to advocate for the river and build partnerships. Her first task is to work with local communities and counties on a watershed management plan to the Middle Cuyahoga and continue improving water quality.

(Downing, Bob, "Cuyahoga River gets a new voice," Akron Beacon Journal,, 23 February 2009.)
(Scott, Michael, "Healthy fish, insects show Cuyahoga River also much healthier," The Plain Dealer,, 02 March 2009.)


Second dam on the Musconetcong River is removed

The Musconetcong Watershed Association has taken out a second dam on the Musconetcong River. A notch was cut in the Seber Dam that allowed the pond to dewater, lowering the level in the upstream impoundment to stabilize the banks and allow for easier access and better work conditions for the equipment needed to remove the structure. The association removed the dam to restore the river's natural flow, improve water quality and eliminate thermal pollution and a potential flood hazard. Following the dam removal, an extensive stream bank restoration project, similar to the work done at the Gruendyke site, the first dam removed by the organization, will be undertaken. Restoration work will be funded by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and spearheaded by Trout Unlimited volunteers. Seber Dam was built in the 1950s to form a swimming area for local residents. The dam was formed of dumped rock and rubble and periodically overlain with whatever pourable aggregate was on hand. It was breached and repaired on a number of occasions over the past 50 years. The partnership is a private-public initiative aimed at preserving, restoring, enhancing and protecting aquatic habitats throughout the United States.

(Warren Reporter, "Second dam on the Musconetcong River is removed,", 23 February 2009.)

Funding given to explore removing dams along the Lower Millstone River

The Lower Millstone River is set to benefit from a partnership between American Rivers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Restoration Center. The Lower Millstone River Fish Passage Project has been awarded $35,000 to assess the feasibility of removing two dams on the Lower Millstone River. The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association will conduct a study to examine restoring American Shad and other fish in the Central Jersey River. The project will explore removing two dams to open an additional 14.1 miles of the river. A total of $290,000 in Community-based Habitat Restoration Program Partnership grants were awarded this year to reconnect fragmented river habitat, improve river health and benefit communities in six states: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. Since 2001, American Rivers and the restoration center have provided financial and technical assistance for numerous river restoration projects benefiting fish populations and habitats. The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

For more information, visit American Rivers at http:// or NOAA at

(Somerset Reporter, "Funding given to explore removing dams along the Lower Millstone River,", 06 April 2009.)

Housatonic River restoration money on the way

Within a few years, there will be new walking trails, a wild trout fishery in Newtown, and new boat ramps - all the indirect beneficiaries of decades-old PCB pollution of the Housatonic River. The state of Connecticut received grant money in 2000 as part of a consent decree it signed with the state of Massachusetts, General Electric Co., and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. In that decree, GE accepted responsibility for cleaning polychlorinated biphenyls - PCBs - out of the Housatonic River. PCBs are a suspected carcinogen, but for decades GE allowed them to flow downstream from its plant, where it used the chemical compounds to make insulators. PCB pollution entered the food stream of the Housatonic, and the state DEP annually warns people about eating fish caught in the river because fish accumulate the chemicals in their fatty tissue. As part of the settlement, GE gave $7.5 million each to Connecticut and Massachusetts for river restoration projects. Because Connecticut has taken nearly a decade to allocate the money, interest has swelled it to about $9 million. The largest grant, for $2.8 million, went to the state Department of Environmental Protection to purchase property easements along the Housatonic River corridor to preserve open space.

(Miller, Robert, "New Milford, New Fairfield, Newtown get Housatonic River restoration money," The News Times,, 08 March 2009.)


Update: After 40 years, removal of Rodman Reservoir dam getting closer

Ever since Richard Nixon occupied the White House, environmental activists have been clamoring to tear down the dam that's blocking the Ocklawaha River from flowing freely through Central Florida. The dam, built as part of the aborted Cross-Florida Barge Canal, created the 9,000-acre Rodman Reservoir. The reservoir is full of bass, which is why anglers have strongly resisted the dam's removal. The 7,200-foot dam and its reservoir were built as part of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, a project that was supposed to let barges slice straight across from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. When the US Army Corps of Engineers completed the dam in 1968, it backed the Ocklawaha up for 16 miles, inundating a big part of the national forest. However, in 1971 environmental groups persuaded a judge to issue an injunction stopping work because of the potential damage to the underground aquifer and the environment in general. Nixon then pulled the plug on the project. For the next 20 years, environmental groups tried to get the dam torn down. Finally, in 1991 Congress turned the dam over to the state to do with it whatever state officials wanted. Gov. Lawton Chiles and Gov. Jeb Bush both pledged to tear down the dam, but each failed to persuade state lawmakers to spend any money on the project. State officials say they are now closer than ever to tearing down the dam.

(Pittman, Craig, "Dam removal faces new twist," St. Petersburg Times,, 08 February 2009.)