Every Mile Counts
Annie Creek runs 15 miles south from its headwaters in Crater Lake National Park to join the Wood River as it flows into Upper Klamath Lake. The upstream portion of Annie Creek is pristine, but the lower reach has been impacted by eight irrigation diversion dams that block fish passage and entrain juvenile fish. This video tells the story of how removing these small irrigation dams and further restoration of the Klamath Basin is likely to show the highest rate of return for native fisheries on the Pacific Coast.
Overview of the 2022 removal of Nelson Dam, an eight-foot-high concrete structure that crossed the Naches River, the largest tributary of the Yakima River. The barrier blocked fish passage where the Yakama Nation holds treaty rights to fish for cultural, spiritual, and economic reasons. The removal was a highly collaborative effort that now opens fish passage while still providing water diversions for agriculture and urban uses.
This video from Jeff Chen Productions interviews members of the Native Village of Eklutna who talk about the importance of restoring water to the Eklutna River following the 2018 removal of the 70 foot high Eklutna Dam just outside of Anchorage. They urge the utility companies upstream to release sufficient levels of water from Eklutna Lake into the river to sustain healthy salmon populations.
Produced by Shane Anderson in the spring of 2023, this video showcases the ecological and cultural importance of removing the four aging hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River—Copco #1, Copco #2, Iron Gate, and JC Boyle. The Klamath River Basin is the ancestral home of five Native California Tribes—the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, Shasta, and Klamath Tribes—who have led the effort to remove the dams and restore salmon populations to the river.
The Open Rivers Fund has partnered with the Rogue River Watershed Council, Rogue Basin Partnership, Applegate Partnership, and others to capitalize on the mainstem Rogue River dam removals by removing the many barriers on the smaller Rogue tributaries. In its first six years, Open Rivers Fund has removed 18 dams in the Rogue Basin, opening 157 miles of rivers and creeks for people and fish.
This Open Rivers Fund video shows how a push-up dam was transformed into a fish-passable roughened channel on Williams Creek, less than a mile from its confluence with Applegate River. The newly installed headgate allows nearby farmers to continue irrigating, with less maintenance and more efficiency.
This Open Rivers Fund video details the removal of an old push-up dam on Salt Creek and the installation of a headgate to facilitate ongoing irrigation diversions while allowing fish passage to cool-water habitat.
To celebrate its first five years of work, Open Rivers Fund 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 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?
Produced by Jeff Chen, the "Return the Salmon Relay" tells the story of a relay event hosted by the Eklutna River Restoration Coalition in September 2022. Coalition leaders and community members gathered to return the salmon to Eklutna Lake by relaying plush salmon along the Eklutna River. The event brought attention to Coalition and community efforts to return water to the Eklutna River which has run mostly dry for 90 years. The Eklutna Dam was removed in 2018, and in 2021, the utility companies released water to the river for 2 weeks to support scientific studies. This was the first time water was returned to the river in living memory of the community. The Coalition is advocating for a long-term return of water to river to support all five species of salmon who call the Eklutna River home.
Produced by Mezia Creative Media, this video documents the Nez Perce Tribe's efforts to build a renewable energy network that will replace the amount of hydroelectric power supplied by the Snake River Dams. The Nez Perce and other Tribes in the region are working to restore historic salmon runs on the Snake River.
This video, produced by Open Rivers Fund, tells the story of the Mill Creek Dam removal and restoration of the San Vicente Creek watershed located in the San Vicente Redwoods of Santa Cruz County. The Mill Creek Dam was removed in 2021. The dam - referred to as a 110-year old mistake - was targeted for removal when the San Vicente Creek watershed was federally listed as a high-priority area for Coho salmon recovery efforts. Tribal and nonprofit land trusts, public agencies, and UC researchers all play an essential role in the continued monitoring and recovery of the watershed. The studies in the region are guided by both traditional ecological knowledge and western science. The story of the Mill Creek Dam removal is one that shows how, in the face of climate uncertainty, communities can draw a hard line and stand up for their non-human relatives through reciprocity to the land and between human partners.
This Open Rivers Fund video details the transformation of an outdated agriculture diversion into a modernized system that diverts water with less effort and maintenance and allows fish passage and recreation access.
This video from Open Rivers Fund provides an overview of efforts to restore Montana's Upper Clark Fork River, which has been contaminated by long-time mining operations. Clark Fork Coalition, Trout Unlimited, and others are partnering to update eight dams with solutions that benefit communities, local economies, and fish.
Produced by Swiftwater Films, “Bring the Salmon Home” is a story about the Klamath River Tribal communities as they host a 300+ mile run from ocean to headwaters to cultivate support for the removal of the four lower Klamath River dams. The Klamath Salmon Run was started by local youth in 2003, a year after dams, diversions, and drought led to a traumatizing fish kill that littered the banks of the Klamath with dead salmon for miles. The event has become an important way for the many small communities along this remote river in far northern California to find solidarity in the struggle to protect their salmon and their way of life. With regulators poised to approve dam removal plans later this year, runners are now racing into a future of hope and optimism.
Film by California Trout showcases the benefits of the Potter Valley Project to communities, farms and fish on the Eel and Russian Rivers. The project calls for the removal of Scott Dam, which blocks access for salmon and steelhead to nearly 300 miles of prime spawning and rearing habitat, and construction of new facilities to enable continued diversion of water from the Eel to the Russian River.
Scenes from the first water release on the Eklutna River after the removal of the lower dam. The release was temporary and symbolic, but an important moment nonetheless in the long effort to restore the river.
Film by California Trout, provides overview of the effort to remove Rindge Dam and restore Southern California Steelhead.
Film by American Rivers and Swiftwater Films: Indigenous leaders share why removing four dams to restore a healthy Klamath River is critical for clean water, food sovereignty and justice. “Guardians of the River” features Frankie Joe Myers, Vice Chair of the Yurok Tribe, Sammy Gensaw, director of Ancestral Guard, Barry McCovey, fisheries biologist with the Yurok Tribe, and members of the Ancestral Guard and Klamath Justice Coalition.
Film by the Conservation Fund, in partnership with the Alaska Native Village of Eklutna. Eklutna Dam, in south central Alaska, was built in the late 1920s to provide hydropower to the growing city of Anchorage. Located in traditional Eklutna Dena’ina Territory, the dam has blocked salmon runs for almost 100 years. The dam was decommissioned in the 1950s after sediment filled the reservoir and removed in 2017.
Bear River is a working river supporting agriculture and ranching. But over time, the river has suffered and so have the native Bonneville cutthroat trout. Open Rivers Fund is working with Western Native Trout Initiative to remove 13 diversions in the Bear River watershed to open up 90 miles of habitat for native trout, while improving the irrigation function the river provides.
To a rancher or farmer, water is everything. On the Bear River, the Booth Diversion Dam was an inefficient irrigation structure that blocked fish passage. This project removed the structure and replaced it with a series of rock structures that provide small elevation gains so that water can still be diverted upstream. The project brought together diverse stakeholders working toward common goals and showcases potential for similar efforts in the region that improve water delivery for landowners and restore fish passage. “It made my life a lot easier,” says Wade Lowham, owner Arrow Ranch.
Video produced by the Bureau of Reclamation: the Lewiston Orchards Water Exchange and Title Transfer Project is a comprehensive solution to water issues in the Lapwai watershed. Deep wells are being built to provide water to the Lewiston Orchards community, leaving water in-stream for ESA-listed steelhead.
The Smith-Meyer-Roper diversion dam was built in the early 1900’s to provide irrigation water. The structure blocks coho and steelhead from accessing spawning and rearing habitat. The dam was removed in 2019 and replaced with a roughened channel and headgate that continues to allow landowners to divert water for irrigation, while also allowing fish passage. “We really like to think of this project as being win-win-win in terms of salmon habitat, land management goals, and helping out the local economy,” says Alexis Larsen, Project Manager, Rogue River Watershed Council.
Beeson-Robison Dam was an inefficient irrigation structure located on Wagner Creek, a tributary to Bear River, that was removed in 2017. Replacing the dam with a roughened channel and headgate system allows salmon and steelhead to access cool-water spawning and rearing habitat, while providing a more efficient irrigation structure that saves irrigators time and money. “There really is no negative,” says Bob Hackett, landowner on Wagner Creek.
Film courtesy of Wahoo Films and the Warner Basin Aquatic Habitat Partnership partners: The Western Native Trout Initiative is helping the Warner Basin Aquatic Habitat Partnership fund 10 projects over 6 years to benefit water users in this critically important watershed while also benefiting Warner Lakes Redband Trout and Warner sucker.
Produced and directed by Ryan Peterson AlaskanistStories.com, in partnership with SusitnaRiverCoalition.org, with support from patagonia.com. A salmon in Alaska makes an unlikely journey on "the Mount Everest of rivers" - the Susitna - as residents consider the costs/benefits of a mega-dam.