No. 91, July 9, 2008

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

Table of Contents


United Kingdom








Thousands oppose power project on Upper Pitt River, jewel of BC

The Upper Pitt River, a jewel amongst BC waterways located just 40 kilometers from downtown Vancouver, was threatened by a large complex of dams and diversions that most people in the province felt would severely damage the river and its fish stocks. In March, The Upper Pitt topped BC's most endangered rivers list, a list based on input representing 200,000 British Columbians. Then, at a public meeting called by the proponent and government to discuss the project's terms of reference, more than 1000 people turned up, all opposed to the power project. After hearing from the company at the beginning of the meeting, it was the public's turn, led off by stirring speeches from river advocates Mark Angelo (see it at and Rafe Mair (Save our Rivers), followed by many others. Highlights from the meeting were broadcast across the country and it became clear that saving the Upper Pitt had captured the imagination of people in every corner of the province. The great public support on this issue was also due to an incredible 2-year campaign led by groups such as the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, The Burke Mountain Naturalists, Save Our Rivers, the River Alliance, the Outdoor Recreation Council, Watershed Watch, ARMS, the BC Wildlife Federation and many, many others.

For more information about this story, and to learn about the September 28 Rivers Day, visit BC's Outdoor Recreation Council at

(Save our Rivers, "Saving the Upper Pitt River,", 26 March 2008.)

One millionth Atlantic Salmon stocked in Lake Ontario

The Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program has reached a major milestone with the stocking of the one millionth Atlantic salmon. Bringing back wild populations of Atlantic salmon to Lake Ontario is one of the largest freshwater conservation projects in North America. Current restoration efforts are focused on three Lake Ontario tributaries, chosen for their high-quality spawning and nursery habitat and strong community support. Restoring Atlantic salmon will improve Ontario's biodiversity. The program involves over 30 partners and sponsors, including local community groups and landowners. "Stocking the one millionth Atlantic salmon is one more step in our ongoing work to restore this species to its traditional habitat," said NaturalResources Minister Donna Cansfield. "This program has benefited tremendously from the excellent work being done by our partners." Atlantic salmon disappeared from Lake Ontario by the late 1800s mainly due to habitat loss in streams. To improve the chances for successful restoration of self-sustaining populations in Lake Ontario, several strains of Atlantic salmon with contrasting characteristics are being used.

Learn more about the Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program at Or visit any of the programs partners: the Ministry of Natural Resources (, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (, Australia's Banrock Station Wines (, Liquor Control Board of Ontario (, Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association (, Fishing Forever Foundation (, Fleming College (, or conservation authorities (

(CNW Group Ltd., "One Millionth Atlantic Salmon Stocked; McGuinty Government Supports Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program,", Disponible en français, 28 May 2008.)

United Kingdom

Wensum River restoration projects get cash injection

Norfolk Anglers Conservation Association (NACA) has been awarded 10,000 pounds (nearly $20,000) in funding by the Environment Agency to assess feasibility, and prepare outline designs for, sustainable river restoration projects for the reaches of the River Wensum. The designs will be in line with the river Wensum Restoration strategy and will give recommendations for restoration projects that will benefit the ecology and fisheries in these areas and contribute to restoring the river to that typical of a Norfolk chalk stream. The reaches to benefit will include Lyng, the site of NACA's first restoration project, and at Costessey where phase two of the ambitious restoration project is deemed to take place to restore this once renowned barbel fishery. Says NACA chair Chris Oakley: "We are happy to be leading the way on projects of this kind on the Wensum, something the Association has been heavily involved with for over twenty years, and are pleased to work closely and in partnership with the Agency and welcome their support." Preliminary design work will be undertaken in early 2009.

(EDP 24, "Projects get cash injection,", 28 May 2008.)


**Drum-Spaulding and Yuba-Bear projects, Yuba and Bear rivers, CA**

Your input could help restore the Yuba and Bear rivers

Two projects on the Yuba and Bear rivers, Pacific Gas & Electric's Drum-Spaudling and Nevada (County) Irrigation District's Yuba-Bear, are undergoing relicensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Home to Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, the Foothill Yellow-legged frog and many other spectacular species, the Yuba and Bear river watersheds offer stunningly beautiful landscapes and provide many types of recreation. These two hydropower projects almost completely dewater the Middle and South Yuba rivers from June into the fall, make the water temperatures too high for native fish, and interfere with one of the best whitewater resources in California. The relicensing process is open now, and FERC is accepting comments on the pre-application documents and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping documents until August 11, 2008. FERC issues 30 to 50 year licenses that govern the operation of non-federal dams. Most hydropower projects in California were licensed decades ago, and now operate under licenses based on outdated science, policy, values and laws. When the licenses expire, dam owners must obtain a new licenses that comply with current standards. The relicensing process represents a valuable opportunity to restore natural flows to rivers, improve water quality, provide fish passage, and restore aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

Let FERC know that the health of the Yuba and Bear rivers is important to you! Submit comments on-line at

For further information, contact American Rivers at

Update: San Joaquin River restoration moves closer

The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved legislation sponsored by CA senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, which would implement a settlement to restore the San Joaquin River and reintroduce Central Valley spring run Chinook salmon to the river. "This brings us one step closer to passing this landmark legislation," says Feinstein. "The legislation would bring an end to 19 years of litigation between the National Resources Defense Council, Friant Water Users Authority, and the federal government. It would transform the San Joaquin into a living river and maintain a stable water supply for the farmers of the region." If the legislation fails, the fate of the river would be determined by a federal district judge whowould likely rule in favor of releasing larger amounts of water at higher cost, and without efforts to mitigate farmers' water losses, Feinstein says. This threat compelled the parties to the table, and brought them to agreement. "This legislation will help bring the great San Joaquin River back to life and end years of litigation and stalemate," says Boxer. The San Joaquin River historically supported large salmon populations, but since the late 1940's, approximately 60 miles of the river have been dried up in most years.

(Central Valley Business Times, "San Joaquin River restoration moves closer," 07 May 2008.)


**Marmot Dam, Sandy River, OR**

Removal of Marmot Dam is now complete; Sandy River flows freely again

Experts were amazed at how quickly the Sandy River washed away the vestiges of Marmot Dam. The final bits of concrete from Marmot Dam were removed Sept. 30, 2007. The remaining earthen coffer dam, built to give crews a dry workspace, was breached on Oct. 19, restoring the Sandy to a free-flowing river for the first time in nearly a century. Within hours of the coffer dam breaching, the Sandy River resumed the appearance of a natural river. Torrents of water carried hundreds of thousands of yards of sediment downstream, helping create natural bends, bars and logjams indicative of a free-flowing river. The removal of Marmot Dam, and the removal of the Little Sandy Dam scheduled for summer 2008, will enable both rivers to flow unimpeded from glacier to gorge and onward to the Pacific Ocean. The dam removals will help improve habitat for threatened fish and wildlife, and expand public recreation opportunities. It will also eliminate expensive maintenance costs to the 95-year-old Bull Run plant and avoid the costly upgrades necessary to bring fish protection up to modern standards. The hydro project removal plan was developed through a diverse collaboration of 23 environmental organizations, state and federal natural resource agencies, local governments and businesses.

Learn more at:

Watch a video of Marmot Dam removal:

(Portland General Electric, "Removal of Marmot Dam is now complete; Sandy River flows freely again,", June 2008.)

'Exceptional' Eustache Creek project wins restoration award

A collaborative effort that began on the Ninemile Ranger District in 2002 to reclaim a section of Eustache Creek has been selected by the Western Division of American Fisheries Society for its 2008 Riparian Challenge Award, for providing an example of exceptional riparian protection and restoration. The restored section of creek had been heavily impacted from decades of mining activity. The project is expected to primarily improve native westslope cutthroat trout populations within the creek and the local watershed. Ninemile Ranger District fisheries biologist Scott Spaulding noted several positive signs in the project area already. He said there has been an increase in cutthroat trout numbers in two of the three project monitoring reaches and he noted that fish redistribution into previously fragmented habitat has likely occurred already. The Eustache Creek restoration work drew on the talents, energy, and expertise of Lolo National Forest scientists, local Trout Unlimited members, and local volunteers.

(Hartwig, Boyd, "'Exceptional' Eustache project wins restoration award," The Clark Fork Chronicle,, 28 May 2008.)

Update: Free speech win for Klamath salmon

Judge Henry C. Breithaupt ruled that Trimet Bus Company's refusal of a "political" advertisement urging PacifiCorp ratepayers to support Klamath River dam removal was unconstitutional, on both state and federal grounds. This is a big victory for both free speech and river restoration. The Karuk Tribe, Friends of the River and the ACLU were commended for standing up for free speech in a time of increasing restrictions by the Bush administration, state and local governments and in this case, a public bus company. David Fidanque, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon, said, "No public transit system should be able to put itself above the state or federal constitution." The Karuk Tribe and Friends of the River seek the removal of PacifiCorp's lower four Klamath River dams, allowing salmon to access more than 300 miles of their historic habitat. The Karuk Tribe and Friends of the River cite economic studies by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Energy Commission that show removing the dams and purchasing renewable replacement energy would save Pacific Power ratepayers about $100 million.

Take action for the Klamath River at:

(Bacher, Dan, "Judge Rules Against TriMet in Free Speech Case over Klamath Dams Ad," San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center,, 03 June 2008.)

Update: Agencies issue final court-ordered plans for Columbia Basin salmon

The Bush administration issued its final court-ordered plans for making Columbia Basin hydroelectric dams and irrigation projects safe for endangered salmon. The proposed changes in operations would cost hundreds of millions of dollars but involve no dam removals. Once an expected challenge is filed, it will be up to US District Judge James Redden to decide whether the plans - known as biological opinions - meet the demands of the Endangered Species Act to put salmon on the road to recovery. Last year he warned the original proposal was seriously flawed, and that he would turn the job over to an independent panel of experts if the government fails again. Federal officials said the effort was their most robust and comprehensive yet. Salmon advocates blasted them as a step backward. They say the plans depend too much on restoring habitat in tributaries to boost fish numbers and not enough on reducing the high numbers of young salmon killed by 14 federal hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers on their way to the sea. The plans do not include removing four dams on the lower Snake River in Eastern Washington, which is favored by salmon advocates.

Learn more about the fight to restore Snake River salmon in the Columbia Basin at

See the NOAA Fisheries final salmon biological opinions:

(Barnard, Jeff, "Agencies issue plan to run Columbia dams, preserve salmon," The Associated Press,, 06 May 2008.)


Gila River restoration includes removing levees

Members of the Gila Watershed Partnership learned about the importance of river flows, floodplains and vegetation - especially as they pertain to the Gila River restoration project. The project will be funded with a $744,747 grant from the Arizona Water Protection Fund. Project consultant Tom Moody, from Natural Channel Design in Flagstaff, discussed river and stream systems at the partnership's meeting in May. The purpose of the Apache Grove project is to restore the function of the floodplain along the upper Gila River by removing levees; reduce the risk of erosion and land loss to the adjacent private property; manage the invasive tamarisk shrub, commonly known as salt cedar, and provide a successful example for other landowners along the upper Gila River. Rivers do not flow in a straight line. Instead, they naturally meander. This movement - curving alternately from one side to the other - helps dissipate the energy from flowing water. Vegetation plays an important role in strengthening a river's banks. Moody said the Apache Grove project will include planting native vegetation and creating field hedgerows.

(Saunders, Diane, "Gila River restoration includes removing levees in Greenlee County," Eastern Arizona Courier,, 21 May 2008.)

Yuma East Wetlands receives restoration grant

Yuma, Arizona's Heritage Area has received a $1.4 million grant from the Bureau of Reclamation toward continuing restorations of the Yuma East Wetlands. "Reclamation is committed to the city of Yuma and the Quechan Indian Tribe's ongoing effort to improve this riparian area and the historic river channel," said Bureau Commissioner Robert Johnson. The wetlands project is a 1,400-acre area spanning from the base of the Territorial Prison State Park to the Gila River confluence with the Colorado River. Under this grant, work will include dewatering selected sites in the floodplain, excavation and placing of fill material, installing a new inlet and outlet structure, and nonnative tree removal and replacement with native cottonwood, willow and mesquite trees. "They've had great success down there in terms of the non-native vegetation removal and helping to restore areas like Ibis Lake, so they have been very good at working with other interests to get support for this effort," Simes said. In 2000, the city of Yuma founded the Heritage Area, and in 2002 it was designated a National Heritage Area. The city later partnered with the Quechan Indian Tribe to restore the natural environment of the historic Yuma Crossing area.

(Guerrero Soucy, Stefani, "Yuma's Heritage Area receives $1.4 grant," Yuma Sun,,
03 June 2008.)


Two Depression-era DuPage River dams slated for removal

Two Depression-era dams on the West Branch of the DuPage River are slated for removal to help restore the river's natural flow and drain two silt-laden lakes. Both dams are on DuPage County Forest Preserve District property. Small lakes have formed behind both dams and are gradually filling with sediment from upstream, said John Oldenburg, the district's director of natural resources. The sediment, which contains some radioactive thorium from the former Kerr-McGee Corporation factory in West Chicago, will be removed and the riverbanks restored to their original flood plain configuration. The silt is rich in nutrients, which produces algae. When the algae die, they decompose, and that process takes oxygen from the water and makes it inhospitable for aquatic animal life. "Removal of the dams will allow fish and mussel species to populate the river upstream of the dams," Oldenburg said. "There are 23 species of fish in parts of the river downstream of the dams but not upstream." Removal of a dam from McDowell Grove will be done in August, he said, and removal of a dam from Warrenville Grove in 2010.

(Sjostrom, Joseph, "DuPage County Forest Preserve District to remove 2 dams," Chicago Tribune,, 03 June 2008.)

Update: Demolition starts on Mill Creek dam

Construction workers chipped away at a century of history in downtown Dexter, Michigan as they began tearing out a dam on Mill Creek. The dam, which has held back the Mill Creek pond for 98 years, was reinforced with concrete and stone in 1932, said Aaron Berkholz, project engineer for the Washtenaw County Road Commission. The removal of the 9-foot-high dam required months of preparation and multiple permits from the state Department of Environmental Quality. Removal of the dam itself will cost about $40,000, said Donna Dettling, Dexter Village manager. "We've been assisting the village since 2000 and we're thrilled to restore the free flowing Mill Creek and reconnect it to the Huron River,'' said Elizabeth Riggs, watershed planner. Hopefully, some of the 24 different species of fish that have been identified both upstream and downstream will swim unimpeded once the creek is restored. As for the wildlife that have called the pond area home, there will still be wetland areas along the creek. A Mill Pond Park Committee has been formed by the village to look at possible types of passive park areas that can be created once the creek channel is restored.

(Allmendinger, Lisa, "Demolition starts on Mill Creek dam; When work is done, creek will be free flowing," Ann Arbor News,, 10 June 2008.)

Restoration plan key to helping Great Lakes buffer impacts of global warming

Enacting a comprehensive strategy to stop sewage overflows, halt invasive species, and restore wetlands and other habitat will be essential to mitigate the impacts of global warming on Lakes Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, as well as the other Great Lakes, according to a report released in May. The report, "Great Lakes Restoration & the Threat of Global Warming," released by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, documents the likely impacts climate change will have on the lakes, including lower lake levels, more sewage overflows, and increased pressure to divert Great Lakes water. "As global warming is one of the leading threats to birds and other wildlife, it's no surprise that the problems in the Great Lakes will only get worse as the climate warms," said Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York. "We need strong federal and state actions to mitigate the threats posed by global warming, which, as this important report highlights, makes good environmental and economic sense."

Learn more, and download the entire report, at:

(Environmental Advocates of New York, "Restoration Plan Key to Helping Lakes Erie, Ontario & St. Lawrence River Buffer Impacts of Global Warming," readMedia Newswire,, 28 May 2008.)


In Bethlehem, city plans to tear down Saucon Creek dam

This summer, Bethlehem's 1930s-era Saucon Creek dam is coming down. As part of a $155,096 creek restoration project, the city is removing the 75-foot-long stone structure and widening the streambed. And a little farther upstream, the city will stabilize the stream banks and put in a buffer of native plants that will help slow down the water and blunt flooding. The dam removal is part of a growing trend across the country as communities fight back against flooding and try to return parks to a more natural state. American Rivers, the advocacy group that awarded the city $25,000 for the project, has reported that 54 dams were removed or slated to be removed nationwide last year - 23 of them in Pennsylvania. Since 1999, at least 273 dams have been removed across the country. In Bethlehem, the removal comes after catastrophic damage caused by the remnants of 2004's Hurricane Ivan and other storms. Philip Burtner, president of the Monocacy Creek Watershed Association, said he is a strong supporter of dam removals because of the environment. Dams hold back silt and other sediment from the creek, preventing certain aquatic habitats -- and the organisms that live there -- from emerging. Fewer organisms means the biodiversity of the creek is limited. Portions of Saucon Creek, which runs through 10 municipalities, are classified as ''class A wild brown trout waters,'' but it also ranks as ''impaired'' primarily because of sedimentation, according to the Saucon Creek Watershed Association. ''This will also hold back migratory fish,'' Burtner said. ''In Saucon Creek, we're talking about shad and eels. They get stopped at the dam.''

(Radzievich, Nicole, "In Bethlehem, so long to the ol' swimming hole; City plans to tear down Saucon Creek dam," The Morning Call,, 11 June 2008.)

The Lehigh Riverfront could be a model for Youngstown revitalization

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground, spewing approximately 10.9 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska. Considered the largest spill to date in US waters, the disaster expelled the same amount of oil that the Youngstown steel mills drained into the Mahoning River every three years. These local mills contaminated the river and its adjoining banks for nearly 80 years, forcing the Ohio Department of Health to issue a contact ban - forbidding fishing, swimming and wading - on the city's central watercourse. While the steel industry diminished water quality in Youngstown, mills near Allentown, Pa., dumped similar pollution into that city's major river. These cities experienced adverse environmental effects long after the decline of the steel industry. In Allentown and its neighboring cities, the Lehigh River has been restored, drawing fishers, boaters and outdoors enthusiasts to Allentown, as well as attracting businesses. "The Lehigh River is used for a lot of recreation, like fishing, whitewater rafting and canoeing," said Alec Bodzin, associate professor at Lehigh University and core faculty member of the Lehigh Environmental Initiative. "It's a big tourist attraction, and even river outfitters do good business."

(Snowberger, Britta, "River restoration should attract local business," The Vindicator,,
18 May 2008.)

Update: Greater restoration efforts needed for Chesapeake Bay

A small stand of trees along the bank of the Severn River is part of the solution for what ails the Chesapeake Bay, noted EPA Bay Program Director Jeff Lape on an overcast morning in early April. If all areas along the Bay and its tributaries had buffers, he noted, "we would see a major improvement in the health of our water resources." Such restoration efforts need to be stepped up, Lape said, as he announced the release of the annual Chesapeake Bay Health and Restoration Assessment. It showed that just 12 percent of the Bay and the tidal portions of its tributaries met dissolved oxygen and water clarity goals, while key habitats such as underwater grass beds remained far below restoration goals. Data in the 2007 Bay Program report show that most habitats remain below goals or are in decline, and target fish species-except striped bass-are in poor condition, although shad show signs of rebounding in some rivers. "It's easy to see from this data that much more needs to be done to accelerate the pace of implementation if we are to succeed in cleaning up the Bay and its rivers," Lape said. "Not only do we need major actions to accelerate implementation, but we also must grow smarter and greener to protect our local waterways and the Bay."

(Blankenship, Karl, "Restoration efforts will have to be stepped up before Bay's health significantly improves," The Bay Journal,, May 2008.)


** New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam, Savannah River, GA**

Benefits of Edwards Dam removal cited for Savannah River dam removal

As an example of how the Savannah River might fare if New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam were removed, groups have cited one of the nation's first dam removal projects, which occurred in 1999 in Augusta, Maine. Just like its New Savannah Bluff counterpart, the Edwards Dam - demolished to allow the Kennebec River to run free - was obsolete and impeded the river's natural flow and the spawning runs of migratory fish. Though skeptics voiced concerns similar to those surrounding New Savannah Bluff, the removal proved to be a wise choice, said Dr. Lynne Lewis, an associate professor and economist at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. "People on the impoundment were terrified they would have ugly mud flats," said Dr. Lewis, who published a paper this year on the economic consequences of the dam's removal. "In the end, we found enormous benefits to recreation and property values, and people living along the former impoundment were very happy," she said. "The very next season the salmon were knocking at the door of the next dam upstream," Dr. Lewis said. Dr. Lewis also studied economic effects of the dam removal and learned that property values improved, as did spending on activities such as fishing, kayaking and ecotourism.

(Pavey, Rob, "Another Augusta benefited from dam removal," Augusta Chronicle,,
25 May 2008.)

Update: Hope for the Everglades

When construction workers filled a canal, tore out roads and prepared land in a corner of the Everglades for a major restoration project, something unexpected happened: Nature rebounded, even before the real restoration began. Today, native plants sprout in what was once a canal. Black bears prowl the pathways. Wood storks and other wading birds swoop into fresh ponds. Best of all, some highly endangered Florida panthers have turned up on the work site, among them four breeding females, one with kittens. State officials have long thought that if they could get the water right - re-creating something closer to the ancient Everglades - the River of Grass would regain its natural splendor. Endangered species would thrive. And native plants, wildlife and shellfish would flourish all the way to Florida Bay. "Even though we are not yet pumping water into the site, we are seeing some significant reversion back to natural conditions," said Ken Ammon, deputy executive director of the South Florida Water Management District. Officials call Picayune Strand a "gold-star project," something to show off to politicians, scientists, business leaders, school groups and eco-tour operators. They present it as proof that the multibillion-dollar plan to restore the Everglades will work.

(Gibson, William E., "Hope for the Everglades: Small Changes Can Revive River of Grass," South Florida Sun-Sentinel,, 03 June 2008.)