[env-trinity] New York Times Editorial July 3 2009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Sat Jul 4 10:36:55 PDT 2009

 <http://www.nytimes.com/> New York Times

 <http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html> Opinion 


10 Years, 430 Dams 

Published: July 3, 2009 

Ten years have gone by since a modest but important moment in American
environmental history: the dismantling of the 917-foot-wide Edwards Dam on
Maine's Kennebec River. 

The Edwards Dam was the first privately owned hydroelectric dam torn down
for environmental reasons (and against the owner's wishes) by the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission. Bruce Babbitt, the interior secretary at the
time, showed up at the demolition ceremony to promote what had become a
personal crusade against obsolete dams. The publicity generated a national
discussion about dams and the potential environmental benefits - to water
quality and fish species - of removing them.

It certainly helped the Kennebec and its fish, and dams have been falling
ever since. According to American Rivers, an advocacy group and a major
player in the Edwards Dam campaign, about 430 outdated dams (some of them
small hydropower dams like Edwards) have been removed with both public and
private funding. In one case, the removal of a small, 50-foot dam on
Oregon's Sandy River was paid for entirely by the electric utility that
owned it in order to improve salmon runs.

More lies ahead. Three dams that have severely damaged salmon runs in
Washington State are scheduled to come down in 2011. A tentative agreement
has been reached among farmers, native tribes and a power company to remove
dams on California's Klamath River, the site of a huge fish kill several
years ago attributed mainly to low water flows caused by dams. 

Maine, where this all began, will be the site of a spectacular restoration
project. Under an agreement involving the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, a coalition called the Penobscot River Restoration Trust and
PPL, a power company, two dams will be removed and a fish ladder built at a
third to open up 1,000 miles of the Penobscot River and its tributaries so
that fish can return to their traditional spawning grounds. 

A half-dozen species should benefit, including endangered Atlantic salmon.
The federal government has now imposed "critical habitat" protections in
nine Maine rivers where the salmon return to spawn.

NOAA's heightened interest in Atlantic salmon has raised hopes that it may
now take aggressive - if politically risky - steps to protect salmon on the
West Coast by ordering the removal of four big dams on the Lower Snake
River. This page has recommended such a move, which two previous
administrations have ducked. It seems now within the realm of possibility. 



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 




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