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More than 1,000 dams have been removed across the United States because of safety concerns, sediment buildup, inefficiency or having otherwise outlived usefulness. A paper published today in Science finds that rivers are resilient and respond relatively quickly after a dam is removed. 

“The apparent success of dam removal as a means of river restoration is reflected in the increasing number of dams coming down, more than 1,000 in the last 40 years,” said lead author of the study Jim O’Connor, geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “Rivers quickly erode sediment accumulated in former reservoirs and redistribute it downstream, commonly returning the river to conditions similar to those prior to impoundment.”

Dam removal and the resulting river ecosystem restoration is being studied by scientists from several universities and government agencies, including the USGS and U.S. Forest Service, as part of a national effort to document the effects of removing dams. Studies show that most river channels stabilize within months or years, not decades, particularly when dams are removed rapidly.

“In many cases, fish and other biological aspects of river ecosystems also respond quickly to dam removal,” said co-author of the study Jeff Duda, an ecologist with USGS. “When given the chance, salmon and other migratory fish will move upstream and utilize newly opened habitat.”

The increase in the number of dam removals, both nationally and internationally, has spurred the effort to understand the consequences and help guide future dam removals.

“As existing dams age and outlive usefulness, dam removal is becoming more common, particularly where it can benefit riverine ecosystems,” said Gordon Grant, Forest Service hydrologist. “But it can be a complicated decision with significant economic and ecologic consequences. Better understanding of outcomes enables better decisions about which dams might be good candidates for removal and what the river might look like as a result.”

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We are currently looking for Laborers and Interns if interested please send us your resume!

  #internships   #environmental   #restoration   #streams   #construction   #design  

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Ecotone is nearing completion of the Upper Little Patuxent Stream Restoration in Ellicott City.  See the story of the project and its progress below. #streams   #restoration   #ecosystem   #construction  

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The budding nursery at Ecotone's High Point Road office in Forest Hill, Maryland.

Why Ecotone's Eric, Sean, and Caroline like Playing with Soils  

Ecotone's Eric Chodnicki, Sean McDonough and Caroline Stanley recently attended a one-day classroom and field seminar conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of Professional Soil Scientists (PAPSS). This course, which was held on April 9th, helps our Environmental Scientists gain a better understanding of the Regional Supplement to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual: Eastern Mountains and Piedmont Region v2.0 and how it will have an effect on the wetland delineation process.  This regional supplement replaces the longstanding 1987 Corps of Engineers Manual/Field Guide for Wetland Delineation while also detailing the updated criteria for determining the hydric soil criteria per the Field Indicators of Hydric Soils in the United States/A Guide for Identifying and Delineating Hydric Soils, Version 7.0, 2010 and how to apply the “indicators” for differing soils types (i.e., all soils, sandy soils, and loamy and clayey soils).    

The classroom component was specific to using the newly adaptive data sheets and how to complete them correctly and accurately, identifying problem hydric soils, employing the hydric soil “indicators”, and how to utilize on-line information effectively prior to conducting necessary field work.  The field component divided those attending into small groups to conduct field sampling employing all of the above to determine the absence or presence of nontidal wetlands along a predetermined transect.  

This was a good opportunity for our staff to update their knowledge and become more adept at all aspects of the wetland delineation utilizing this newer information, while also working with other consultants and the regulatory staff from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Corps of Engineers (COE), and PAPSS.  Upon completion of the course, each of us obtained a “Certificate of Completion” and were granted an Associate Membership with PAPSS for the year 2014.   

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Check out our Photos! We have just added albums for some of the projects that we have completed. For more information about these highlighted projects and others, visit our webpage at

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A total of five separate reaches totaling over 6,500 linear feet of stream channel were restored over the course of construction. The project focused on providing structures for improved aquatic habitat and water quality improvement through reduced thermal impacts and restoration of flood-plain wetlands, and included using crushed stone covered with soil and sod harvested on site to reduce stream width and increase depth and velocities.
Falling Springs Stream Design/Build
4 Photos - View album
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