No. 33, January 30, 2002

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak

table of contents








Dams removed in New South Wales, dam approval moratorium called for in Tasmania

Tasmania's Coastcare co-ordinator Chris Rees said in a conference attended by more than 200 representatives from government and the community that instream dams are negatively impacting estuaries. Professor Thom told the conference that in New South Wales many dams were being removed rather than new ones built because of their impact on water quality. The Tasmanian Conservation Trust recently called for a moratorium on dam approvals until the overall effect of the total number of dams in a catchment area was properly assessed.

(Wood, Danielle, 'State warned on rising sea levels: Call for plan to retreat from coast,' The Mercury, Hobart, 3 December 2001.)


New website dedicated to the conservation and improved management of our waterways

The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has launched a new website called 'River World' ( that highlights river issues around the globe. The site plans to feature inspiring examples of river conservation successes including the stopping of the Arun dams in Nepal, the cleaning up of the Hudson River in New York and the decommissioning of the Theodosia dam in British Columbia. The web page will also delve into stories of river devastation and attempt to provide readers with a greater understanding of the various threats that confront our rivers in the hope that we can learn from these examples. Starting in the summer of 2002, the site will launch a special year-long feature entitled 'a tale of two rivers'. Mark Angelo, an internationally renowned river advocate and Order of Canada recipient, will chronicle his travels to the Eg River in Mongolia and then to the Mekong in Southeast Asia.

us - california

Restore Hetch Hetchy, an editorial

'In 'A More Natural Yosemite' (editorial, Dec. 1) you quoted John Muir's praise for Yosemite Valley and supported 'the removal of several bridges and dams on the Merced' River as a way to return Yosemite to a more natural state. Allow me to suggest the removal of another dam in Yosemite National Park, on the Tuolumne River--the O'Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley. As a 1988 report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation states: 'Such restoration would renew the national commitment to maintaining the integrity of the national park system and keep in perpetual conservation an irreplaceable and unique natural area.' We advocate a win-win outcome for Hetch Hetchy Valley and for the San Francisco Bay Area that currently relies on the Hetch Hetchy water and power system. Such a win-win outcome is possible, using the restoration of Mono Lake as a model; the water level of Mono Lake is constantly rising, and the city of Los Angeles is receiving more water from other sources--and has received millions of dollars in state and federal financial assistance for very successful water conservation programs. The restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley provides the same kind of opportunity.' -Ron Good, Executive Director, Restore Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite, Calif.

For more information, visit

(Los Angeles Times, 'Editorial: Remove Another Dam to Restore Hetch Hetchy,' 13 December 2001.)

Proposed Lang Ranch Dam, Lang Creek, CA
Opponents of dam win reprieve for 40 oaks

Opponents of a plan to build a flood control dam in the Lang Ranch area of Thousand Oaks recently took their pleas to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in early January 2002. Citing concerns about safety and the environment, speakers asked the board to order an independent review of the project before the Ventura County Flood Control District cuts down oak trees to make way for the dam. The supervisors took no action on the issue. Project opponents then took their battle to court, and won, persuading a judge to spare 40 oak trees at the Thousand Oaks site--at least for two weeks. After hearing arguments from the Save Lang Oaks Fund, Judge Thomas J. Hutchins in Ventura County Superior Court agreed to issue a temporary restraining order blocking the county's plans to cut the trees on Monday to make way for the dam. Although construction of the dam was not to begin until April, officials wanted to clear the trees before bird-nesting season begins. Opponents had asked that no trees be cut until the county received clearance from the state to begin construction. When the state issued its final permit earlier this week, opponents petitioned the court. District officials maintain that the dam is necessary to catch storm water from land paved to support homes in the area and to protect residents downstream from catastrophic flooding and cumulative effects of storm water. Critics of the project say that a dam in the proposed location would be unsafe. Construction of the dam, they argue, could further degrade the area's stability.

(Talev, Margaret, 'Opponents of Dam Win Reprieve for 40 Oaks, Los Angeles Times, 26 January 2002.)
(Ventura County Star, 'Supervisors don't act on pleas to stop dam,' January 9, 2002.)

Salmon swim into San Luis Obispo

Favorable ocean conditions and plentiful fall rains have created a rare phenomenon -- chinook salmon farther inland in San Luis Obispo Creek. The hatchery-reared fish were introduced into San Luis Obispo Bay as part of an on-going fisheries enhancement program. A handful of the fish normally live long enough to reproduce and swim up the creek in a frenzied and probably futile effort to spawn before they die. Typically, only three to five of the fish are spotted in the lower reaches of the creek. However, this year as many as 15 have been seen as far upstream as South and Lower Higuera streets in San Luis Obispo, said Freddy Otte, a biologist with Central Coast Salmon Enhancement, the group that planted the salmon in the ocean. 'I've been with the project for five years now, and I've never seen this many fish in the creek,' he said. The fish typically grow to 3 feet in length and present a rare and enjoyable sight, said Brian Stark, a project manager with the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. Stark has conducted many habitat improvement projects in the creek.

(Sneed, David, 'Salmon swim into town as far as south street; the rare sight delights area conservationists,' The San Luis Obispo Tribune, 20 December 2001.)

us - northwest

Army Corps rejects Snake River dam breaching, but issue far from dead

For the past decade it was one of the Northwest's hottest issues: Should four giant dams on the Snake River be breached to help rebuild endangered runs of salmon? But when the US Army Corps of Engineers finally rejected the proposal in early December, it was hardly noticed. Political and economic realities in the past year - primarily the election of George W. Bush and the West's energy crisis - made it a foregone conclusion that the corps would decide to keep its dams. The dams became an issue in the 2000 presidential election when Bush said he opposed the breaching. But the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition insists legislative and legal tools remain to seek removal of the four dams. The Corps' decision 'doesn't mean that dam removal is not going to happen,' said Melissa Pease of the coalition. Under a national recovery plan, the issue of dam removal must be studied again in 2003, 2005 and 2008, Pease said. If recovery is not occurring, dam breaching returns to the table. If the government doesn't act, then environmental groups can turn to the courts. 'Wild runs are still on the brink of extinction,' Pease added.

More information on-line at:,

(Geranios, Nicholas K., 'Dam-breaching issue may not be dead but is at least hibernating,' Associated Press, 13 December 2001.)

BPA to spend more on salmon recovery, but less than needed

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) plans to sharply increase its spending on salmon recovery efforts next year. The BPA wants to increase the $127 million for salmon recovery to $186 million and the $125 million for dam improvements to $159 million. That would increase its total spending on salmon programs and dam improvements from $252 million to $345 million, a 37 percent increase. The jump was driven by the federal government's decision not to remove the four lower Snake River dams but instead to increase other efforts to help salmon, such as restoring rivers and streams and modifying hatcheries to reduce the threat they pose to wild fish. Scott Corwin of the rural Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative, said the increase concerns him. But conservationists and tribes said that the money is an inadequate substitution for breaching the dams. Conservationists said the problem is compounded because other federal spending on Columbia River salmon restoration - money that comes from taxpayers, not electric ratepayers - is about half what they think it should be. The federal government appropriated $435.6 million for Columbia River salmon in fiscal 2002. That is $250 million less than Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and conservationists had called for.

(Associated Press, 'BPA plans to spend more in salmon recovery,' 11 December 2001.)

Lower Granite Dam, Snake River, WA
Environmentalists oppose Lower Snake River dredging

A coalition of environmental and sportsmen's groups filed objections to a plan for dredging the Lower Snake River downstream from Idaho's only port city. Idaho Rivers United, the National Wildlife Federation and others maintain the dredging plan, which also includes the option of raising the levees in Lewiston by three feet, would harm salmon and steelhead runs that are already suffering from past river management strategies. As part of its 20-year, multimillion-dollar plan to maintain the channel and dispose of the sediment, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to begin dredging the river from Lewiston to the Lower Granite Dam next winter. It wants to maintain a 14-foot-deep and 250-feet-wide navigation channel on both the Snake and Clearwater rivers that meet at Lewiston. The environmental groups maintain the plan will not solve the long-range problem of persistent sediment buildup behind Lower Granite Dam. The groups claim the Corps ignored less environmentally disruptive alternatives to dredging like reducing the maximum load barges can carry or partially removing the dam. 'Raising the levees and dredging are not long-term solutions,' Bowler said. 'The best long-term, safest and most cost-effective way out of this predicament is to partially remove Lower Granite Dam.'

(Associated Press, 'Environmentalists oppose Lower Snake River dredging,' 7 January 2002.)

US agencies criticized for hindering Washington State, Oregon salmon runs

A recent congressional report found it could cost $375 million and take up to 100 years to install salmon-friendly culverts on federal lands in the Northwest and reopen crucial habitats for endangered runs. 'This is one of the most basic, fundamental things we can do,' said Representative Norm Dicks, who requested the study from the General Accounting Office, Congress' bipartisan investigative arm. The study concluded that US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands in Washington and Oregon include watersheds that represent some of the best remaining habitats for salmon and other aquatic life. 'As such, unobstructed passage into and within these watersheds is critical,' the report said. The culverts, which channel streams underneath roads, were not originally installed with salmon in mind and often pose insurmountable barriers for fish heading upriver to spawn or downriver to migrate to the ocean. About 10,000 culverts exist on salmon-bearing streams on federal lands in the two states, though neither the Forest Service nor the Bureau of Land Management knows exactly how many are causing problems for the fish. The agencies have identified about 2,600 that are barriers to migrating salmon, and agency officials say more than twice that number may exist, the report said.

(Blumenthal, Les, 'U.S. Agencies Criticized for Hindering Washington State, Oregon Salmon Runs,' The News Tribune, 31 December 2001.)

Milltown Dam, Clark Fork River, MT
Missoula County Commission says remove pollution, then Milltown Dam

The Missoula County Commission has reiterated its position there is no safe alternative to removing an estimated 6.6 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment behind Milltown Dam and then removing the dam itself. Commissioner Barbara Evans said Missoula's insistence on a permanent cleanup should be printed 'in bold and underlined. I'm just really, really worried that if somehow the companies all go away, we will be left with the liability,' Evans said. 'And Missoula County's entire budget would not be adequate to fix that mess. Those who made the mess should clean it up.' Arco is responsible for the heavy metal deposits that have accumulated behind the dam for nearly a century and now are part of the nation's largest Superfund cleanup project. The pollution originated in headwater regions of the Clark Fork River, the result of past Anaconda Copper Company mining and smelting operations at Anaconda and Butte. To help cover the enormous costs associated with decommissioning Milltown Dam, historian and author Stephen E. Ambrose said he will donate $250,000 toward efforts to remove the aging structure and clean up the contaminated sediment behind it. Ambrose said the cleanup option at the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers is a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to reclaim environmental damage caused by decades of mining.

(Associated Press, 'Author says he'll donate $250,000 to effort to remove Milltown Dam,' 16 January 2002.)
(Associated Press, 'Missoula County Commission says remove pollution, then Milltown Dam,' 5 January 2002.)

Duncan Creek Dam, Duncan Creek, WA
Project leads to small victory for salmon

More than two dozen threatened chum salmon on a small Columbia River tributary have taken advantage of freshly dug spawning grounds in spring-fed reaches of Duncan Creek above a newly reconstructed Duncan Creek Dam, a minor victory in the battle to restore the species to the Columbia River. Where spawning chum salmon numbered 500 as recently as 1950, that number had dwindled to a fortunate one or two capable of migrating past the dam in recent years. Working with state biologists and private foundations, about 60 landowners commissioned a new replacement dam last year. At a cost of about $575,000 -- including $200,000 from the landowners -- the old dam was torn out and a new dam constructed in the summer of 2000. The new dam includes a U-shaped channel 10 feet wide and 18 feet deep that allows adult salmon and juvenile fish to easily migrate into and out of the creek. The channel remains open between October 15 and June 15. In the summer, a pair of fiberglass sliding gates close on the dam and the landowners can enjoy their lake. 'The time we need fish in there, they don't need the lake anyway,' said Steve Manlow, habitat biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 'Most of the year, you wouldn't want to be out on that lake doing anything.'

(Robinson, Erik, 'Project leads to small victory for salmon,' The Columbian, 27 December 2001.)

us - northeast

Fort Halifax Dam, Sebasticook River, ME
Dispute over dam heads to governor's office

A delegation that argues the state must develop a more comprehensive dam-removal policy is met with Governor Angus S. King Jr. in December 2001. The meeting included discussion about the fate of Fort Halifax Dam, the over 90-year-old hydroelectric facility owned by Florida Power & Light Energy. Winslow resident Ken Fletcher, head of the Save Our Sebasticook delegation that will meet with King, said he wants to see the state adopt a statewide view on dam removal that considers environmental and energy ramifications, as well as economic impact. Fletcher also said he wants to see a one-year moratorium imposed on any dam-removal proposal currently under dispute. 'This is not just about (the Fort Halifax Dam),' Fletcher said, arguing that every dam in the state should be subjected to the same comprehensive scrutiny. This controversy about dams is a direct result of the 1998 Edwards Dam removal agreement. Under the terms of that agreement, Florida Power & Light must provide permanent passage to alewives, shad and salmon, either by installation of a fish ladder or removal of the dam.

(Hickey, Colin, 'Dispute over dam heads to Augusta Group, governor to discuss state's dam removal policy,' Central Maine Morning Sentinel, 1 January 2002.)

Winterport Dam, Marsh Stream, ME
Legal fight over Winterport Dam

Until last summer, the Winterport Dam was owned and operated as a hydroelectric station for nearly 20 years by local engineer John Jones. When deregulation depressed the electricity market, Jones decided to sell the dam on the Marsh Stream to the environmental group Facilitators Improving Salmonid Habitat, or FISH, for $1. As previously reported, FISH viewed removal of the dam as critical to restoring the stream to its natural habitat and allowing the return of Atlantic salmon and other species. Some nearby residents reacted strongly when word of FISH's plans reached them. Besides the recreational amenities provided by the dam's 3-mile-long impoundment, the 50-acre area also has served as a water supply for fire and flood protection. In August, the town raised $10,000 to mount a legal fight against the FISH proposal. After reviewing the matter, attorney Gilbert advised the towns that the least expensive solution would be to take the dam by eminent domain. That recommendation did not sit well with FISH. FISH attorney Clinton Townsend reacted by transferring the title of ownership back to Jones for $1 while still preserving the rights to obtain permits to remove the dam. Townsend told a public meeting last week that Maine law protects residents of a property from being removed by eminent domain.

(Griffin, Walter, 'Future of dam to be discussed in Winterport;' Bangor Daily News, 13 December 2001.)

Ecologist to offer plan to restore Annapolis stream

Keith Underwood is trying to bring the fish, frogs and turtles back to Cowhide Branch. For the past decade, the native inhabitants of the Annapolis stream have been blocked from its waters by a stone dam built to contain sediment headed downstream. Underwood, a restoration ecologist and environmental activist, will soon submit a plan to county officials detailing a proposal to reopen the stream to fish and to rebuild a wetland designed to absorb and filter storm water runoff. 'The intent is to maximize biological activity and biodiversity,' said Underwood, who led an effort to save a string of bogs on Pasadena's Mountain Road peninsula. 'So we'll have everything from seepage pools that are ideal for amphibians to breed and grow in, and for tiny fish to hide from bigger fish, and of course we'll have turtles and all the usual suspects present when habitats form for them.' The county hired Underwood in October to develop a restoration plan for the portion of Cowhide Branch that has been inaccessible to fish since the installation of a 3-foot-high stone dam in 1992 after the failure of a storm water retention pond.

(Powder, Jackie, 'Wildlife's return to stream sought; Ecologist to offer plan to restore Cowhide Branch,' The Baltimore Sun, 30 December 2001.)

Dam issue headed for special vote

Town voters will have to decide this spring whether to remove a deteriorating dam on the Lamoille River. The town's electric department owns the dam. Therefore, town and electric department officials feel the voters should decide the dam's fate. The department used to generate some hydroelectric power by manipulating the dam's gates, but no longer does so. The dam is deteriorating and it will soon need some repairs if it is not removed. The electric department has recommended that the dam be removed. The Vermont Natural Resources Council, which has studied the issue, says removing it would improve the riverbed and would help Hardwick Lake, which is behind the dam. Nancy Stevens, chairwoman of the Hardwick Electric Department's board of commissioners, suggested the issue go before voters in March. 'We'd like to see the dam out of there but this is something to be decided by the town,' Stevens said.

(Associated Press, 'Dam issue headed for special vote,' 7 December 2001.)

us - southeast

Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam, Ocklawaha River, FL
Forest Service proceeding with Ocklawaha River restoration

The US Forest Service is calling for the restoration of the Ocklawaha River, which has been flooded since a dam was built as part of the long-ago canceled Cross-Florida Barge Canal. Sixteen miles of the Ocklawaha, a tributary of the St. Johns River in northeast Florida, is submerged under Rodman Reservoir in Putnam County. The Forest Service released its environmental impact statement in early January, which proposes a gradual draining of the 9,200-acre reservoir, removing a portion of Kirkpatrick Dam and closing a lock. Other components include filling the barge canal and measures for erosion control. The Forest Service's proposal calls for the reservoir to be drained in three phases, ending in the summer of 2005. The river would be restored by 2006. Governor Jeb Bush has said that restoring the Ocklawaha to its natural condition is a priority. The dam and reservoir, built in 1968, are remnants of a canal intended to allow barges to float across the peninsula from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentalists vehemently opposed the plan, and after a prolonged battle President Richard Nixon halted further construction of the canal. Congress officially killed the proposed canal in 1991, and the lands were transferred to the state.

For more information on the fight to restore the Ocklawaha River, visit Florida Defenders of the Environment at:

(Associated Press, 'Forest Service proceeding with Ocklawaha River restoration,' 8 January 2002.)

Groups root for Dockery's Everglades plan

Reporters, environmentalists and more than a dozen lawmakers crammed into a conference room on December 18 to hear the announcement of a new financial guarantee for restoring the Everglades. But they also were witnessing a major change in Representative Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican who, until recent years, was known more for her connections to the citrus and cattle industries than for conservation efforts. In the legislative session beginning on January 22, Dockery will sponsor a bill that would allow the state to borrow up to $125 million a year to buy land so the Everglades can be flooded and returned to its natural state. Environmentalists enthusiastically support the bill. That Dockery is leading the charge on the Everglades bill is evidence of a political transformation, environmentalists say. Less than two years ago, she topped the environmental enemies list for pushing the Submerged Lands Bill. The bill would have given adjoining property owners title to lands submerged by rivers and lakes part of the year. 'I think she was misled by the forestry, cattlemen and phosphate people who had approached her about the bill,' said Eric Draper, a lobbyist for Audubon of Florida and Dockery supporter. 'I don't think she really grasped how much environmental damage would be done by the bill.'

(Salinero, Mike, 'Groups Root For Dockery's Everglades Plan,' The Tampa Tribune, 7 January 2002.)