Dam Removal is Essential to a Healthy River System

Tam O'Shanter dam in suburban Niles.

The winter edition of our seasonal newsletter, the River Reporter, features a cover story about dam removal as one of the most important investments in aquatic life heath for the Chicago-Calumet River system, as well as community access and public health and safety.

In the early 2000s, Friends called the dangers dams present to the attention of then Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, who as governor established the Illinois Dam Removal Initiative which to date has resulted in 16 removals statewide with eight more under way or under consideration. Two dams are scheduled for removal in 2024, one in Niles and one in Morton Grove.

“Dam removal for the Chicago-Calumet River system is particularly important,” said John Quail, Friends’ director of policy and conservation. “Habitat loss, sewage, road salt, and other degradation result in a massive loss of species with only the most hardy fish such as common carp and the occasional bass swimming in the stream. The dams contribute to further degradation by creating a barrier to the natural movement of fish and mussels in the upstream direction. For recreators, dangerous hydrologic conditions present on the downstream side of dams have the power to trap and drown paddlers.”

The River Reporter covers all the latest news of Friends’ policy and planning initiatives, education and outreach programs, and on-the-ground habitat projects. Look for the winter edition to arrive in your mailboxes soon, or to receive the River Reporter by mail update your membership here. Past edition of the River Reporter are also available on our website

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