Science in Action: The Colorado River Basin Study

Sunrise on the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry, Arizona.

Sunrise on the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona. Photo: L. Reynolds

By Lindsay Reynolds

The Colorado River supplies water to people and ecosystems in 9 western states in the US and Mexico, including almost 5.5 million acres of irrigated lands and nearly 40 million people1. The Colorado, with headwaters in the snowy Rocky Mountains and a path through some of the most arid regions in North America, is one of the most intensively managed river systems in the world. For many years now, research scientists have been warning of impending water shortages in the basin2,3. Last week, the non-profit conservation group American Rivers named the Colorado the most endangered river in the nation. Population growth in combination with limited water and the potential effects of a changing climate are leading down a road to a very dry future. Continue reading

Advertisements

The ecology of dams and dam removal: a socio-ecological history of the Elwha (Part 4)

I am pleased to introduce a guest piece by Peter Brewitt, PhD Candidate University of California Santa Cruz and blogger at http://damremoval.wordpress.com. In his PhD research, Peter is working on the politics and ecology of two of the dams mentioned in this series. Thanks to Peter for the quick turnaround on this article – please thank him by checking out his work at the above links.

-Nate and the ECE

The ecology of dams and dam removal: a socio-ecological history of the Elwha (Part 4)

By Peter Brewitt

The Elwha River used to be 45 miles long. It flowed north out of Washington’s Olympic Mountains, from glaciers to taiga to lowlands and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was far enough west to pick up the moisture rolling in off the Pacific ocean, far enough east to avoid getting scoured out like the rainforest rivers on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. And… it was full of salmon. Continue reading

The ecology of dams and dam removal: Condit Dam on the Lower Salmon River, WA (Part 3)

The White Salmon River watershed and surrounding vicinity. Borrowed from friendsofthewhitesalmon.org

By Nate Hough-Snee

Near Washington State’s Mt. Adams, a small river begins, flowing south into the Pacific Northwest’s largest wild Salmon production facility, the Columbia River. This river begins in steep headwaters on one of the Pacific Northwest’s lesser volcanoes and runs 44 miles through forests ranging from the subalpine to second-growth plantations, draining roughly 400 square miles. Continue reading

The ecology of dams and dam removal: The Savage Rapids Dam, Rogue River, OR (Part 2)

A map of the Rogue River Basin. Borrowed from rogueriverkeeper.org

A map of the Rogue River Basin and associated Chinook salmon runs. Borrowed from rogueriverkeeper.org

By Nate Hough-Snee

Case one: the Savage Rapids Dam, Rogue River, OR.

The Rogue River begins a 215-mile journey to the sea from Crater Lake, the remnant caldera from the eruption of Mt. Mazama in south central, Oregon. From Crater Lake the river snakes through Oregon’s lushly forested Cascade Range before heading through the Klamath Mountains and the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and onward to the Pacific Ocean. Between the two mountain ranges, the river passes US Interstate 5 near Grants Pass, a former timber town and the county seat of Southern Oregon’s Josephine County. It’s near this point where the river seemingly parallels I-5, at which a major salvo was fired in the 21st century’s first Pacific Northwest dam wars.

Continue reading