Author: Mallory Griffith
In Oregon, and the Greater Pacific Northwest, there are many dams that have been constructed for various reasons, some being, to create energy, allows better flood control or irrigation. Flood control in Oregon is very vital, floods have been known to wipeout towns and cause chaos throughout the state. Floods damage housing, soil, roads and many other expensive assets that a town may have. When a dam is put in place to protect from flooding, it can be expensive but look at all of the assets and land it is protecting. Another important reason humans use dams, is for drinking water. Dams are often put in place to create an area for safe drinking water and in the summer this water is used in case of drought, and in the winter the water is stored up. Having a surplus of water is a huge benefit that comes from a dam. Another important reason for a dam would be to create more usable land and make profit off of it. If the dam is in place it holds water back allowing for more taxable land to be built on. Once that land is being used as real estate it is gaining a profit that it would not have otherwise. These are the human benefits of having a dam in place.
Now, many years later, dams are beginning to give way and become a hazard if something is not changed. There are two main ecosystems and the cost of removal we have to think about when proposing to remove a dam. Dam removal is beginning to get more attention because of the cons they provide to ecosystems and potentially to humans. Dams that were built in the 1900’s are old, and have wear and tear from supporting so much water over the years. It is dangerous to have a dam that could break or crumble because it would cause flooding and it would destroy the ecosystems all along the river. Yes, if you remove a dam it will still cause a large disturbance to ecosystems along the river, but humans would be prepared to restore and protect what already exists. Also, dams prevent the growth of salmon and other fish populations because the fish can only go so far before the dam cuts them off. In Oregon, people take their salmon very seriously, and it is important for the community to be protecting the growth of the salmon population.
Photo credit: Salmon leaping at Willamette Falls Image ID: fish6624, NOAA's Historic Fisheries Collection Location: Oregon, Oregon City Photo Date: 1950 June 27
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