Gen. George Washington needed a great idea. He got it from an English-born patriot named Thomas Machin.
Machin knew water. He had been an apprentice canal builder in England, and, as a captain in an artillery company he was called by Washington to help defend the river at the Hudson Highlands. The river was narrow there, and since ancient times armies had placed sharpened logs, scuttled ships, and other debris in a narrows to block passage. But here the river was too deep. Machin had his a-ha moment: Why not forge an iron chain and float it across the river, anchoring it at either shore?
“This week, after seven years of opposition to a hydropower proposal put forth by the Snohomish County Public Utility District (SnoPUD) for the South Fork Skykomish River, local activists, tribes, paddlers, river recreationists, and anglers got some good news at the April 10 SnoPUD meeting, when the SnoPUD commission and staff agreed to cancel the Sunset Falls hydropower project and request the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to close the docket on the current application.”
Finally! Falls would have been reduced to a trickle if hydro project approved.
A generalized reconstruction of Paleo-Bell River drainage and evolution of other major rivers in western and northern North America, after James Sears and others. By the Miocene, the Paleo-Bell River Basin reached its greatest extent. Rifts like the Rio Grande and Great Basin created an ancestral Colorado River that was yet to establish a course to the Pacific (location 1). Instead, it flowed north from the Grand Canyon region through structurally controlled valleys and into the larger Paleo-Bell River Basin via an ancestral Yellowstone River, whose gravels cap the Cypress Hills. This route was blocked by eruptions of lava in the Snake River Plain (location 2) associated with the Yellowstone Hot Spot. Repeated glaciation starting about 2.6 million years ago diverted north-flowing rivers like the Paleo-Yellowstone along ice sheet margins (location 3) to form the Missouri River. The ice sheets also disrupted the Paleo-Bell River Basin, causing river sedimentation to cease in the Saglek Basin. The Mackenzie River Basin was created, leaving the Saskatchewan/Nelson River Basin as the last remnant of North America’s Amazon. Credit: K. Cantner, AGI and Lionel Jackson, based on Sears, GSA Today, 2013.
“The complex, unique geology of the Los Angeles Basin, with its interlocking and overlapping ridges and valleys, resulted in a wildly unpredictable river that often sent torrents of water tearing over its banks.
Not long after California became a state in 1851, the water needs of a booming population stressed the Los Angeles River to its breaking point. Meanwhile, the fitful river endangered the settlements multiplying throughout the floodplain. After catastrophic floods in 1914, 1934, and 1938, the city, at the recommendation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, agreed to straighten the riverbed and pave it with concrete, deracinating whatever plant and animal wildlife was left. A complex of aqueducts, dams, and reservoirs was built to import most of the city’s water; today, it delivers about 430 million gallons daily.”
Restoration of this watershed is a priority to many who live in and around LA.
“Now, as global warming steadily melts glaciers and polar ice sheets, quickening the pace of sea level rise, scientists say that a severe shortage of river-borne sediment — most of it trapped behind dams — will increasingly be felt along the world’s coasts.”
The UCLA study highlights the inadequacies of decades-old infrastructure in the Golden State that were “designed for theclimate of the past and not for the rapidly changing climate of the future,” Climate Signals notes.
“Ourbig dams were designedto capture smaller floods than what we expect in the future,” said Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist and lead author of an earlier study on California’sclimate-related weather extremes. “We can make some changes on the margins, but these structures were built for a climate that we no longer have.”
“The Klamath River project will be the most significant dam removal and river restoration effort yet. Never before have four dams of this size been removed at once which inundate as many miles of habitat (4 square miles and 15 miles of river length), involving this magnitude of budget (approximately $397 million) and infrastructure.
But perhaps more important than the size of the dams is the amount of collaboration and the decades of hard work that have made this project possible. American Rivers has been fighting to remove the dams since 2000. And thanks to the combined efforts of the Karuk and Yurok tribes, irrigators, commercial fishing interests, conservationists, and many others, our goal of a free-flowing river is now within reach.”
Biggest dam removal ever! Klamath was largest salmon producer until dams interrupted reproduction cycles.
Mr. Zinke said he had little interest in the governor’s job, and believed his next step would involve floating down a lot of rivers, learning how fly-fish better, and “being helpful to groom and advise the next generation of conservationists.”
Jack Begg contributed research.
Follow Julie Turkewitz on Twitter @julieturkewitz.
There seems to be a lack of consistent principles behind Mr. Zinke’s DOE strategy.