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Individual Highlight

After the dam comes down

Photo of Trout Creek, Washington, two years after  the removal of Hemlock Dam. Trout Creek, Washington, two years after the removal of Hemlock Dam. Snapshot : New work synthesizes knowledge about the physical and ecological responses to dam removal.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bellmore, J. Ryan 
Research Location : national
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1406


Dam decommissioning is rapidly emerging as an important river restoration strategy in the U. S., but few studieshave evaluated the far reaching environmental consequences of dam removal; in particular, interactions between physical and ecological aspects of dam removal are poorly known. Ryan Bellmore, a research fish biologist with the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, and his colleagues synthesized observations from dam removal across several diverse settings nationwide. They summarized key physical and ecological responses to removing dams, including responses of fish communities, food webs, reservoir erosion and downstream sedimentation, water-quality (including turbidity and contaminant transport), and invasive-species. They highlighted the multifaceted and inter-related consequences of dam decommissioning, providing a basis for formulating realistic expectations for river restoration. They also identified key information gaps and ways in which the science and management around dam removal could be expanded. For example, if scientists and practitioners worked together to identify regional and national priority research questions, organized around common management concerns, knowledge gaps could be addressed strategically and in a coordinated way. Moreover, to make information about dam removal more readily available, they created the Dam Removal Information Portal, or DRIP, which is an interactive and visual online database where researchers and practitioners can locate up-to-date scientific information on dam removal (see:

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • U.S. Geological Survey