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Stories of our connected and rapidly changing region.

To Restore Healthy Rivers, Conservationists Find Success Removing Small Dams

Built about 150 years ago, Mill Pond Dam in Colchester, Vt., is currently breached, but still creating a small swamp upstream.
Photo by Kathleen Masterson for VPR

Unlike large hydropower dams, where there’s often serious political and emotional resistance to removal, conservationists are finding many landowners of small dams are happy to have them removed.

The rivers and streams of New England are littered with thousands of dams, and many of them are no longer actively doing anything other than clogging waterways.

The dams range in age — some are over a century old, others were constructed in recent decades. In fact, some Vermont dams that are being taken out of rivers were built in a relatively recent wave of federally subsidized construction.

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