Dams and Dam Removal
Dams drove agricultural, industrial, and urban development in the West, but, by altering natural flow patterns and trapping sediment, created complex problems for migratory fish and downstream ecosystems. Since the late 1800s, 76,000 dams over six feet tall have been constructed in the contiguous U.S. A 2003 Heinz Foundation report estimated that by 2020, 80% of U.S. dams will reach the end of their design and regulatory lifespan.
Rivers are a precious (priceless?) commons, defined by the public trust doctrine as common public resource. Yet in North America and around the world, the doctrine of Manifest Destiny has degraded rivers and the watersheds they drain.