Dirty dating america
When a dam slices through this moving ecosystem, it slows and warms the water.
In the reservoir behind the dam, lake creatures and plants start to replace the former riverine occupants.
Dams may get the recreational label, Doyle says, “when we have no idea what they are for now, and we can’t stitch together what they were for when they were built.” But while many of the original uses have disappeared, the dams have not.
In the very center of conservationist hell, mused John Mc Phee, surrounded by chainsaws and bulldozers and stinking pools of DDT, stands a dam. “They take away the essence of what a river is,” Stanley says. A flowing river carries sediment and nutrients downstream and allows flora and fauna to move freely along its length.
Grand Coulee Dam, which stopped the Columbia River in 1942, supplied vast quantities of electrical power that turned aluminum into airplanes and uranium into plutonium. They restrained rivers to control floods and facilitate shipping.
President Harry Truman said that power from Grand Coulee turned the tide of World War II. They stored enormous volumes of water for irrigating the desert and in doing so reshaped the landscape of half the country.
Gordon Grant didn’t really get excited about the dam he blew up until the night a few weeks later when the rain came.
Migratory fish can be visceral reminders of how a dam changes a river.Mark Ogden, the project manager for the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, says many small private dams were indeed built for recreational activities like fishing.Grant, Magilligan, and Doyle have a different theory, however.Nearly one-third of dams in the national inventory list “recreation” as their raison d’être, a rather vague description.I inquired about this with the Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the inventory, and their reply merely offered a cursory explanation of “purpose” codes in the database.