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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
Ecological prosperity = economic prosperity
Appleton Dam before removal

Appleton Dam during removal

Appleton Dam after removal

We may find that managing a river-for floods, navigation or power-costs more than we imagine or estimate. Maintaining those alterations when a river's processes are trying to restore a natural order is also costly. Natural streams often prove to be the low-cost alternatives.

For example, many of the small mill and hydropower dams built a century ago are now decrepit and dangerous. By altering the natural hydrodynamic forces of the stream, the reservoirs have filled with silt. In many cases, dam owners, such as cities and power companies, find it is cheaper to remove the dam and restore the channel than it is to rebuild the structure. Often, what is lost in power production, for example, is more than compensated by increased value to human safety, fish and wildlife populations, and recreation.

In Minnesota in recent years, dams have been removed on many streams, including the Cannon, Kettle, Crow, and Otter Tail (see story of Frazee Dam). According to the conservation group American Rivers, 480 U.S. dams have been removed, most within the last 20 years, many for cost considerations in addition to environmental benefit.

Luther Aadland
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Rivers reflect the watershed
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A New Stream
Common Wealth
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