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Nature Recovers Quickly After Dam Removals


Banks of White Salmon River in what was Northwestern Reservoir one hour after breach of Condit dam

Banks of White Salmon River in what was Northwestern Reservoir one hour after breach of Condit dam

Taylor Goforth/USFWS

Many dams in the United States are growing old, obsolete, and unsafe, which has led to a previously unseen rate of dam removals. More dams were torn down in the U.S. in the past decade than in the previous 90 years combined, including nearby demolitions on the Elwha River and the White Salmon River in Washington.

new study synthesizes research on over 100 dam removals across the globe to find out how the environment responds. It turns out that nature is often quick to recover. Rivers establish new paths within months or years and migratory fish like salmon tend to find their way past the former dam sites within days of removal.

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OPB | Broadcast: May 4, 2015