Documentary Spotlights Partnerships in Dam Removal

To celebrate its first five years of work, Open Rivers Fund—a program of Resources Legacy Fund, launched in November 2016 with a 10-year, $50-million investment from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation—worked with film director Jason Jaacks to produce a documentary highlighting several dynamic dam removal projects and partnerships that are reshaping waterways across the American West.

The 15-minute documentary, “Restoring Our Rivers: Communities Taking Action,” premiered on Thursday, March 23 at the Washington, DC Environmental Film Festival. The film takes a look at aging dams and the problems they cause, answering a question made increasingly urgent by climate change: How can we rethink our water management to benefit all?

Exploring four purpose-driven partnerships in northern California, southern Oregon, central Washington, and Montana, the documentary demonstrates that a movement, rooted in collaboration and science, is building across the western United States to restore rivers for the benefit of people, fish, and wildlife. These dam removal projects not only improve conditions for fish but are restoring relationships between Native Peoples and the rivers that sustained the culture and lives of their ancestors. At the same time, these projects are improving business operations for farmers and ranchers as well as reducing safety risk and liability for municipalities.