Tag Archives: dams

Leave It to Beavers via PBS

“Leave it to Beavers” on NATURE tells the story of beavers in North America — their history, their near extinction, and their current comeback as modern day eco-heroes. The full amazing episode is available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.

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River as Sewer System

In his fact-filled and thought-provoking critique of man’s long history of impacts on the Snake River, Richard Manning, writing in a recent High Country News asks the reader to acknowledge one basic fact.  “The Snake River Plain,” he writes “sprawling over 15,600 square miles, is a desert.  The river system and about 10 inches of rain a year are its water supply entire.”

From this common point, Manning traces a worrisome, dizzying inventory of human impacts, reflecting on the cumulative effects of man’s development on this once-pristine watershed, finally concluding “Idaho’s Sewer System is the Snake River.”    >Read More via https://www.hcn.org/issues/46.13/idahos-sewer-system-is-the-snake-river

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Flood Alleviation – Unpaid Engineers to Restore Floodplains

Following major floods in January 2014 Marina Pacheco, the chief executive of the UK Mammal Society, recommended that the UK Government promote beaver reintroductions as a means of reducing flood risk in the future.

“Restoring the beaver to Britain’s rivers would bring huge benefits in terms of flood alleviation. These unpaid river engineers would quickly re-establish more natural systems that retain water behind multiple small dams across tributaries and side-streams. As a consequence the severity of flooding further downstream would be greatly reduced, at no cost to the taxpayer,” wrote Pacheco.

This regulation in river flow may also help reduce flooding and bankside erosion downstream according to the biofresh blog http://biofreshblog.com/2014/04/18/beavers-ecological-stress-and-river-restoration/

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Yvon Chouinard: Tear Down ‘Deadbeat’ Dams

A recent New York Times Opinion piece by Yvon Chouinard titled “Tear Down ‘Deadbeat’ Dams,” rightly questions the values and highlights the environmental risks associated with dams, underlining that the benefits “for water use, flood control and electricity – can now be met more effectively without continuing to choke entire watersheds.”

He goes on to say that: “Of the more than 80,000 dams listed by the federal government, more than 26,000 pose high or significant safety hazards. Many no longer serve any real purpose.” For Chouinard, an adventurer and founder of Patagonia, this has long been an important issue.  “I’ve been working to take down dams for most of my life.  The idea, once considered crazy, is gaining momentum.”  >Read On


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Struggling To Contain A Rising Mississippi

Floodwaters are rising to record heights in the lower Mississippi, weeks before they’re expected to crest. Ira Flatow and guests discuss how engineers have boxed in the river with dams, levees and spillways, and whether human-induced climate change might bring more frequent floods. >More via ScienceFriday

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The Most Invasive Species

I read with interest the recent story by Brett French Barrier Proposed to Protect Cutthroat,” announcing Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks’ latest misguided plan to construct dams and dump poison into streams in Sweet Grass County.  It occurs to me that if anyone other than state fisheries biologists were building dams in natural streams or trying to eradicate every fish, amphibian, reptile, insect and macroinvertebrate from their natural habitats –  our community would be in an uproar.  Imagine for example that all this aquatic life was being impacted by a massive oil spill…or destroyed by a developer.

Unfortunately, our local community of anglers, conservationists, non-profits, and scientists has mostly been silent.  Instead, the quiet march of environmental destruction has continued across Montana – by plan with public funding. 

It is widely known that dams stop the migration of not just so-called “invasive species” but of all species of fish including those native to the stream system.  This is the reason that so many dam REMOVAL projects to restore rivers are going on across the U.S. today.   The poison (Rotenone) that MT FW&P continues to infer will somehow magically kill only the target non-native fish species continues to kill everything in its path, including in this case the very trout that this expensive and invasive program is by definition intended to “protect” and “restore.” 

Anyone doubting the significant collateral damage being caused by this brand of so-called “Native Fish Restoration” or the potential long-term impacts can read more at www.stopriverkilling.org or see a short documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CCPCrIJJts 

Montana’s streams, rivers and wetlands face many challenges today, but few so great as poorly conceived, extreme management techniques.  In this we are clearly the most invasive species.

To comment on the project, write MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Jeremiah Wood at P.O. Box 27, Fishtail MT 59028 or e-mail jrwood@mt.gov.

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