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Landscape Context of Dam Removal and River Response

Dam removal is one strategy for addressing aging, obsolete infrastructure, and more than 1,100 dams have been removed in the United States since the 1970s. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of more than 50,000 existing dams, including 874 removed dams, to analyze how landscape context affects biophysical responses to dam removal. The highest concentration of removed dams was in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Most dams have been removed from 3rd and 4th order streams in low-elevation (< 500 m), low-slope (< 5%), and smaller (10–1000 km2) watersheds. Landscape context may inform possible biophysical responses to removal, but a broader geographic range of removals would be helpful to improve understanding of dam removal responses in multiple landscape settings. To address the inconsistencies across dam-removal studies, authors provide suggestions for prioritizing and standardizing data collection associated with dam removal activities.

Foley, M.M., Magilligan, F., Torgersen, C.E., Major, J., Anderson, C.W., Connolly, P.J., Wieferich, D., Shafroth, P.B., Evans, J.E., Infante, D., Craig, L., 2017, Landscape context and the biophysical response of rivers to dam removal in the United States: PLOS ONE, v. 12, no. 7, p. e0180107, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180107[Details]

Contact: Christian Torgersen, FRESC, 206-616-1874, Profile

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