The clearinghouse for dam removal information

As the many frequent visitors to know–from such posts as this and this–we’re enthusiastic about the salutary effects of ridding the world of useless, outmoded, and ill-conceived dams.

Although the catchily-named The Clearinghouse for Dam Removal Information carefully hews to the unwritten law decreeing that water-related sites must be visually unappealing, it is a valuable resource for those interested in the pros and cons of dismantling dams to allow rivers and streams to once again be . . .mmmm, rivers and streams.

The site, according to its editors, is unbiased on the matter, but we think there’s a bit of the old nudge-nudge, wink-wink here. But it’s stated purpose, to provide a resource in which those on both sides of the issue can learn more, is spot-on and important. Some people balk at the notion of dismantling a local dam because they don’t understand why it may be beneficial, while some environmentalists fail to see or at least underestimate the possible negative consequences of destroying dams and impoundments that have existed for centuries.

After marveling at the site’s Web .002 look and feel, check out the video that is linked from a tiny brown box hiding in the upper left corner that contains barely legible text. The video is free and therefore inexplicably not posted on YouTube. You can view it online, where it streams from a oddly function-free media player devoid of such distractions as rewinding and forwarding. Or you can download the 340-MB file. Sigh.

It’s a nicely made documentary full of current and historical information about the almost total destruction of fish runs and the decimation of the once massive populations of herring, shad, and other anadromous fish in New England. It contains what must be quite rare documentary footage from colonial America (What? Wait a minute, how the. . .Oh, those are costumes!).

It’s a serious, sobering, and even hopeful film, in which at one point the slightly whiny narrator poses the musical question: Will the rhythms of ancient ecosystems once again find harmony? At–where the glass is half-empty with polluted water–we’re skeptical, but it sure would be nice for a few more salmon, herring, and shad to be able to reach their spawning grounds, if only to reduce the price of fish at the supermarket.


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