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Open Rivers Initiative

In the United States, millions of dams and other barriers block fish from reaching upstream spawning and rearing habitat. Dams often provide benefits, such as hydroelectric power and irrigation, but many are now obsolete. Removing these structures can improve the health of our rivers, fisheries, and our economy.

In 2005, NOAA created the Open Rivers Initiative, which provides communities with funding and technical guidance to carry out dam and barrier removal projects that restore local rivers and streams. The initiative is focused on community-driven dam and river barrier removals, with the goal of enhancing watershed health and fostering sustainable populations of migratory fish such as salmon, sturgeon, shad, river herring, and American eel.

Open Rivers Initiative at a Glance

  • Supports project activities such as dam and barrier removal implementation, design, and project viability analysis.
  • Aims to improve public safety and encourage economic growth, while restoring the natural form and function of the river or stream.
  • Provides technical guidance, including assistance with environmental compliance and monitoring.