Summer reading: River restoration—in part thanks to dam removal. Also, removal of “drowning machines for kids”.

In the late 1990s, restoration evolved yet again and firms like Inter-Fluve began to focus their gaze on dams. Ecologists and environmental scientists  has long bemoaned the environmental destruction wreaked by dams.  They stop flow.  They frustrate salmon. They fragment landscapes. They kill rivers.  John McPhee wrote emphatically in Encounters with the Archdruid that “there is something metaphysically sinister” about dams that in the “absolute epicenter of hell sits a dam”….

By the close of the twentieth century society was faced with painful end of life decisions for these geriatric pieces of infrastructure.  In some cases, state agencies stepped in… realizing that old abandoned dams were enormous safety hazards; locals called them drowning machines for kids…. Just as river restoration began quietly, as an almost secret passion for river eccentrics, so began the era of dam removal—slightly under the radar of national attention”

The Source—How Rivers Made America and America Remade its Rivers by Martin Doyle, 2018