|TU volunteers and other river activists met on the shore of Lake Michigan in November 2000 to learn about small dam impacts on rivers and fisheries, and to explore strategies for increasing support for local restorations involving selective dam removal.|
Learn more about dam removal as a river and fisheries restoration tool and how you can become involved. Start by requesting a copy of our video, Taking A Second Look: Communities and Dam Removal, and our publication Dam Removal: A Citizen's Guide to Restoring Rivers. To request these materials, e-mail email@example.com .
To get involved locally, contact your closest TU chapter or state council by using our online search tool .
Here's some general information on some of the other things you can do:
Speak for the fish.
Providing a voice for the river or fish is perhaps the single most important thing you can do in a dam repair/removal discussion. University studies show that regulatory and technical concerns are generally adequately addressed during the decision-making process, and that opponents of dam removal are generally well represented. What's often missing? A voice for the river and life that depends on it. Visible support for restoring river function and fishery health from local citizens is the most effective, but citizen support of any kind is valuable - and may be enough to turn the tide of support toward restoring the river. This can include letters to the editor of a local newspaper, speaking to citizen and business groups about the benefits of a healthy trout or salmon fishery, or meeting with elected officials and other opinion leaders. A strong TU chapter can be a particularly effective voice for fisheries restoration.
Protect public resources: public waters and taxpayer money.
Many dams provide important societal benefits. Others no longer do, yet they continue to damage water quality and harm fisheries that belong to the public. Also, many are in such disrepair that they pose public safety hazards, especially for boaters, anglers and children. Taxpayer dollars - your dollars - are often used to repair the old structures, at great cost to citizens and to the river. Fortunately, decisions about the future of dams are often made by bodies, like City Councils, that have the responsibility to make fiscally prudent decisions about the use of taxpayer dollars. Let these elected officials know your concerns about damage to the public's natural resources, and how your money is spent by visiting, writing or calling them.
Act as a "Spark Plug": Encourage that dam removal be considered as a viable alternative.
Get your facts. Learn about any safety, environmental or cost issues that may be associated with a local dam that you believe may be harming a coldwater fishery. Find out which agency or agencies have regulatory authority (if any); whether inspection is required, and if so when the dam was last inspected. Are there decision points on the horizon (e.g., is it being sold, abandoned, ordered for repair or removal) that you may be able to influence? Be aware that discussion of dam removal, even for small structures, can be emotionally charged, so make your case based on solid science and realistic cost factors. Stick to the facts; in many cases dam removal will be the most logical and cost-effective choice.