At Trout Unlimited, we usually celebrate when dams come out and rivers are made whole again. We’ve been part of some of the greatest reconnection efforts ever seen, from the Elwha in Washington to the Penobscot in Maine. Removing dams in our country is … fashionable, if not vital for healthy river function and the future of our migratory fish.
In Europe’s Balkans region, however, about 3,000 hydropower dams and diversions are planned on some of the continent’s last free-flowing rivers, and nearly 200 projects are already in the construction phase. Local communities are protesting the construction, and pushing back against the idea that dams are the only source of power for this remote region of Eastern Europe. Patagonia, the American clothing and gear manufacturer, is speerheading an international push to raise awareness of these planned dams, and the effort to fight them.
It will be long, uphill battle—many of these projects are well under way, and with government-issued permits in the hand of developers, it will be difficult to stop their construction. But the restistence is in place, and the people of the Balkans are standing up against the proposals in order to save the rivers on which their communities depend.
Check out the video above, and consider helping Patagonia keep the Balkans’ rivers whole.
— Chris Hunt