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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 The Year of the River

American Rivers, a leading conservation organization based out of Washington, DC is calling 2011 The Year of the River. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has been working to bring awareness to the plight of our nations river systems and has led successful campaigns to restore and protect over 100,000 miles of rivers and streams.

American Rivers is active coast to coast, working to bring back rivers from their dammed state to being once again free flowing. From the Penobscot in to the White Salmon and Elwa in Washington, American Rivers is working to restore water quality, fish and wildlife on these valuable waterways.

In Washington, Olympic National Park is the headwaters for the Elwa River. For 100 years dams on this river have hindered the migration of steelhead trout and six species of Pacific salmon. With American Rivers help more than $50 million has been secured to remove the Glines Canyon Dam and the Elwa Dam. This will open over 70 miles of habitat to migrating fish from the Puget Sound. Upon it's completion, the Glines Canyon Dam will be the highest dam ever removed from a river.

The White Salmon River is a tributary to the Columbia River. American Rivers is working with its partners to dismantle the Condit Dam. This dam has been impeding salmon and steelhead migration for the last 75 years. It's removal will open up over 45 miles of migratory fish habitat.

Over on the east coast Maine's Penobscot River will see two dams removed and a bypass channel constructed around a third. The dams to become history are the Veazie and Great Works. Howland Dam will see the bypass channel. This will restore over 1,000 miles of river habitat to New England's second largest river system. The Penobscot River is widely known for its abundant fisheries and these improvements will go a long way to enhancing them.

The Chesapeake Bay is the crown jewel of the Mid Atlantic proving valuable spawning and nursery habitat for many fish species. This system has suffered through the years from the manipulation and pollution of its tributaries that feed it with its life giving water. Maryland's Patapsco River is one of these damaged tributaries. Here, the removal of the Simkins and Union dams is expected to improve water quality and fisheries while also contributing to the improvement of the Chesapeake Bay.

Join American Rivers in celebrating 2011 as "The Year of the River" by supporting these important projects but just as important, supporting and helping with river restoration projects in your own community, state or region.