A Shift in Flow

The decades-old debate on whether or not to tear-down dams is gaining some scientific attention in Arizona.  KJZZ’s Tony Ganzer reports.

TG: Northern Arizona University scientists are examining Fossil Creek, which is mid-way through an extensive process to decommission the waterway’s dam.

TG:  NAU Associate Biology Professor Jane Marks says decommissioning dams is becoming a more common practice as people in many countries are looking for more environmental restoration.

TG: Fossil creek is a prime case study.

Marks: “Some of the general issues we’re seeing in Fossil Creek and in dam removals everywhere is what to do with the sediments behind the dam, and how to prevent exotic species from invading an area you’re trying to restore.  And also, if you are trying to restore a pristine area, developing management plans so people can visit and enjoy it and recreate in it.”

TG.  Marks says some dams are no longer useful, and other conservation measures make up the benefits for the lost dams.  She says the work at Fossil Creek and similar sites may make dam decommissioning easier.

Marks: “And I think the more dams we study, and we look at the data and after-data the better prepared we’ll be to get the most bang for our restoration buck and be able to avoid the negative side effects.”

TG: Marks’ study is published in this month’s Scientific American.

For KJZZ, I’m Tony Ganzer.

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