Return the Salmon Relay
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.
This video, produced by FLOWPV, provides a post-construction fly-through tour of the Nelson Dam Removal Project, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the active floodplain and learn about the project elements along the way.
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 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.
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.
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.
The Tulalip Tribe Natural Resources Department leads the way in a fish restoration project in Carnation, WA. Natasha Coumou Assistant Restoration Ecologist explains why.
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.
Watch a timelapse of the removal of the Nooksack Middle Fork Dam Removal Project, which took place in July 2020. Removal of the dam is listed as one of NOAA Fisheries’ top recommended actions to recover Puget Sound Chinook salmon populations.
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.
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.
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 Watershed Education Network engages community members in Missoula, Montana to monitor Rattlesnake Creek and gather scientific data that informs creek restoration efforts.
Video produced by California Trout: California Trout ranks Matilija Dam, located in the Ventura River watershed, as one of the top 5 dams to remove in California. Originally designed for water storage and flood control, Matilija has filled with sediment over the years, reducing water storage and rendering the dam obsolete. Removing Matilija Dam will reconnect access to critical spawning and rearing habitat for the endangered Southern California steelhead.
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.
Rich Reid’s documentary Watershed Revolution asks the question “What is a Watershed?” The answer is explored through interviews with concerned citizens working to protect and preserve the Ventura River watershed while stunning high definition cinematography highlights the beauty of the river. The unique challenges faced by a river that is the sole source of water for a thirsty community are brought to life and will change forever your definition of a watershed.