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Creating an Environmental Market for Stream Barrier Removal

October 2017

American waterways bear the effects of more than 100 years of heavy and widespread development. As a result, less than 2% of U.S. rivers are free-flowing—constrained by dams, levees and road crossings and other obstructions. The aim of this paper is to explore opportunities provided by existing regulatory programs in the United States to improve stream health through the removal of these barriers to aquatic connectivity. Federal requirements to offset impacts to streams provide more than $3 billion a year for restoration projects. However, dam and other infrastructure removal is often not available as a restoration option. Barrier removal projects support highly durable restoration outcomes that can permanently increase habitat connectivity and improve natural river processes and functions important for the health of freshwater and estuary habitats. This report lays out recommendations for overcoming the existing challenges to widespread adoption of barrier removal projects as a compensatory mitigation method and to support an ‘environmental market’ in dam removal. Click here to read the report.

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