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Webinar: Stakeholder guidance helps to identify major misconception regarding dam removals

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Wednesday, 13 November 2019, 12:00

Wednesday, November 13, 2019. 12:00PM. Webinar: Stakeholder guidance helps to identify major misconception regarding dam removals. Brian Yellen and Jon Woodruff, UMass Amherst. Sponsored by Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center. More information here


Efforts to bolster Hudson River Estuary fisheries have focused a great deal on tributary dam removals. However, concern for sediment impacts often forestalls these projects. In the case of the Hudson, stakeholders have questioned whether sediment mobilized during dam removal might adversely affect water quality and submerged aquatic vegetation in the estuary. Others have pointed the potential benefits of releasing impounded sediment to downstream tidal marshes, which need to accumulate sediment to keep pace with sea level rise.


In close collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders, including regulators, practitioners, and fellow scientists, our project team has quantified dam-trapped sediment inventories and characterized tidal marsh histories and sediment needs for three major tributaries of the Hudson River Estuary. Several results have help to negate common misconceptions regarding dam removals for the Hudson and likely the greater Northeast region and include: (1) sediment trapped behind unused dams comprises a very small part of the estuary’s sediment budget; (2) the majority of dams in the watershed do not trap any measurable sediment; (3) a majority of tidal marshes in the estuary are relative new to the Hudson, initiated as a result of  enhanced sediment trapping by railroad causeway construction and dredge spoil impoundments. These results are contrary to widely held beliefs that may originate from other regions with different sediment transport characteristics and highlight the role of the information gap that hinders many dam removals in the Northeast.

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