Open Rivers Fund

Restoring rivers for people and wildlife across the American West

Matilija Dam
Ventura River Watershed • California

Open Rivers Fund

Restoring rivers for people and wildlife across the American West

Rattlesnake Dam
Rattlesnake Creek • Montana

Open Rivers Fund

Restoring rivers for people and wildlife across the American West

Eklutna Dam
Eklutna River • Alaska

Open Rivers Fund

Restoring rivers for people and wildlife across the American West

Bear River diversion dams
Bear River • Wyoming

Open Rivers Fund supports local efforts to remove obsolete dams, modernize water infrastructure, and restore rivers across the western United States to benefit people, fish, and wildlife.

Currently
44
Project Dams Removed
More Than
332
Stream Miles Opened
Working in
54
Watersheds
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Open Rivers Fund Projects

We support local efforts across the western United States, working in watersheds as diverse as the West itself. Click on a watershed to learn more about our projects or view our full project list.

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The Benefits of Dam Removal

Environment

Removing dams allows fish like salmon, steelhead, lamprey, and other species to reclaim upstream habitat for spawning and rearing. Free-flowing rivers enable riparian habitat to flourish, providing shelter and habitat for a variety of wildlife, and reclaiming natural sediment transport.

 

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Communities

As dams age, they pose a number of financial, safety and liability concerns. When reservoirs and upstream riverbeds fill with silt, they fail to provide the flood protection and water supply benefits they were built to provide. And aging water infrastructure requires costly maintenance and repairs. Modernizing dams with 21st century water infrastructure solutions helps communities secure long-term economic stability.

 

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Tribes

Damage caused by dams have been disproportionately placed on Tribes, who have suffered displacement from their lands and sources of sustenance. Removing dams opens river flows that allows Tribes to reclaim their ancestral lands and fisheries.

 

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Agriculture

Farmers and ranchers across the West are realizing the water efficiency benefits of removing irrigation diversion barriers. Modernized irrigation infrastructure not only uses less water, but also is easier to operate, saving both time and money.

 

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Recreation

Open rivers boost fish populations and create new opportunities for anglers, while also expanding opportunities for hikers and boaters. River towns across the West can enjoy economic gains from healthy tourism and outdoor recreation industries.

 

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Open Rivers Fund Updates