Nelson Dam Removal Project: Fly-Through Tour
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 American Rivers, this is the story of the rural town of Craig, Colorado as it faces economic transition away from fossil fuel extraction and toward a possible future that leverages its natural amenities for tourism. Traditionally defined by mining, energy production, and ranching, Craig lies in the high mountain plains above the meandering Yampa River. As the town reckons with the closure of a large coal-fired power plant and surrounding mines, a growing coalition of leaders and community advocates are working to save their town and move from an extraction-based economy to one focused on recreation and tourism, centering the health and well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. Dam removal and restoration of the river are pieces of that puzzle.
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.
Nooksack Dam was removed in the summer of 2020, opening 17 miles of habitat for fish, including Chinook salmon, an important part of the culture and diet of the Nooksack and Lummi tribes. Removal also reduces safety risk and maintenance costs to the City of Bellingham, while ensuring long-term reliable water supply and providing jobs. The project is a win-win-win for salmon, Puget Sound orca whale populations, and the community.
Removal of Nelson Dam on the Naches River tributary to the Yakima River will open 309 miles of habitat for coho and Chinook salmon, improve kayaking and fishing, provide irrigation water for the City of Yakima, stimulate the economy with hundreds of new jobs, and reduce flood risk.
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.
Rattlesnake Dam was removed in the summer of 2020. Its removal restores migratory fish passage to historic spawning grounds on Rattlesnake Creek for the first time in 115 years. The project improves habitat for fish and other animals, adds new recreation opportunities, and offers other benefits to the community and Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes.
The Watershed Education Network engages community members in Missoula, Montana to monitor Rattlesnake Creek and gather scientific data that informs creek restoration efforts.