Fall 2023 Newsletter

Published 12/5/2023  |  Hydropower Reform Coalition


Happening in Hydro

Happy December to all of you, and happy fall. It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of 2024 already! It’s been a busy year, and as I reflect back I’m proud of the work that we’ve accomplished together. Here are a few highlights:

  • We celebrated with partners in the Klamath Basin as Copco 2 Dam came out, (un)paving the way for the other three Klamath River dam removals by the end of 2024.
  • We maintained pressure on PG&E to remove the two dams in the Potter Valley project on the Eel River, which reached a new milestone last month with the release of the draft decommissioning plan (more below).
  • We co-hosted a webinar with William & Mary College on Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Hydopower Reform, with an all-star panel of speakers. The webinar was attended by more than 80 people, with more than 300 registered.
  • We met with Congressional staff on both sides of the aisle about methane emissions from reservoirs and advocated for widespread assessment and reporting.
  • We trained new practitioners from across the country, and continued to strengthen our Steering Committee practice on equity and justice through trainings on cultural resource management, Tribal treaty rights, and equitable engagement with Indigenous partners.
  • We engaged on hydropower projects across the country, advocating for improved conditions on thousands of river miles!

This is truly a team effort, and we are grateful to have this strong group of hydropower practitioners to share the work with.

Colleen McNally-Murphy

Associate National Director

Survey: Accessibility at Hydro Projects

Our friends at River Management Society are collecting stories of accessibility improvements at hydropower projects around the country. These can be planned or built, and may include things like physical amenities, interpretation and messaging, and adaptive recreation infrastructure.

Learn more here. The survey closes December 15th.

Resource Spotlight & Webinar

The HRC is proud to announce the publication of the Practitioner’s Guide to Hydropower Dam Removal, published with American Rivers. The guide is available in our resource library, and includes sections on:

  • Dam removal decision-making
  • Funding sources for removal
  • Surrender & decommissioning regulations (FERC process)
  • Case studies of 21 removed hydro dams
  • And more!


Webinar: Removing FERC Hydropower Dams: Data and Decision Making

December 14th, 1:00-2:00 Eastern time

Author Katie Schmidt will join us to present this exciting resource and discuss critical elements of the policy and practice of removing hydropower dams, as well as the data and decision-making process behind successful projects. Learn when and how to get involved in the process, some key factors, and hear about specific case studies. Register here

Infrastructure Funds for Dam Removal

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included hundreds of millions of dollars for dam removal, fish passage, climate resilience, and more. Luckily, there are a few resource hubs to help keep track of all these programs.

  • The Fish Passage Portal links to all 15+ fish passage and dam removal programs.
    • FEMA National Dam Safety Program High Hazard Potential Dam: funding grant cycle is open now.
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration: accepts letters of interest on a rolling basis.
    • U.S. Forest Service has additional funds to remove dams.
  • The River Network has a roundup of funding options for water projects, organized by topic, including:
    • Building resilient infrastructure for communities
    • Flood mitigation assistance
    • Coastal habitat restoration and rehabilitation
  • American Rivers put together this factsheet showing:
    • The 5 key dam removal programs (totaling $800m)
    • Dam rehabilitation funding through FEMA and the Army Corps ($850m)
    • Dam retrofit funding through DOE ($753.6m)

Training: FERC Licensing 101

January 16th, 2:00-3:30 Eastern time

Join this training for an introduction on how hydropower licensing works, what you can achieve during a project licensing, how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission works, and strategies for getting involved. This training is geared towards newer hydropower practitioners, but there is something for everyone to learn. We will have lots of time for discussion, so come with questions.


  • Mark Zakutansky, Eastern Chair, Hydropower Reform Coalition & Director of Conservation Policy Engagement, Appalachian Mountain Club
  • Colleen McNally-Murphy, Associate National Director, Hydropower Reform Coalition

Registration will be capped at 50 people so sign up early!

Register here

Welcoming Nic Nelson as the PNW Chair

Nic Nelson, Executive Director of Idaho Rivers United, has taken on the mantle of Chair of the Pacific Northwest Caucus. Nic has dedicated his career to conservation, working on conservation efforts for elk, raptors, and waterfowl; in addition to wilderness advocacy and permanent land protection campaigns. When not in the office, you can find Nic wetting a line on one of Idaho’s blue ribbon fisheries or playing in the beautiful mountains that make Idaho the ideal place to live.

Join a Regional Hydro Caucus

Did you know? The Hydropower Reform Coalition has regional caucuses that hold regular virtual meetings, and that are open to all members to join! The caucuses are focused on the Pacific Northwest, California, and the Eastern US (broadly defined and including the Midwest and South). These meetings are a great way to connect with folks in your region who are working on hydro, stay up to date on relevant policies and legislation, and discuss challenges you may be having with your projects. The meetings are open to all members — let us know if you’d like to join!

From the Blog

Wild Atlantic Salmon Recovery in Maine: The “King of Fish” Makes a Comeback

A river streaming with silvery scales. Tens of thousands of determined fish, swimming upstream and leaping over barriers to spawn. Water teeming with life. This sight was once common from the Gulf of Maine to some of the most remote streams and ponds in the Appalachian Mountains. In late fall female salmon would burrow into riverbeds and make nests of pebbles to deposit their eggs for the next generation of salmon to hatch and grow in the spring. Read more. (Appalachian Mountain Club)

A Celebration on the Elwha River

Across the world, advocates for dam breaching, free-flowing waters and river restoration are celebrating the news that the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe has been able to fish for coho salmon for the first time since two large dams blocking the Elwha River were removed a decade ago. The small ceremonial and subsistence fishery held in October is testament to the power of rivers to heal and evidence that the Tribe’s efforts to restore salmon in their home watershed is working. Read more and explore our page on the Elwha River restoration(Trout Unlimited)

PG&E Confirms Plan to Begin Full Removal of Eel River Dams

On November 17, 2023, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) released the initial draft of its plan to remove two dams on the Eel River. The plan calls for the complete and expeditious removal of most of the Potter Valley Project facilities. PG&E must provide the plan to federal regulators as part of the license surrender process triggered by the utility’s decision to divest from the financially unviable Project, which has not generated power since 2021. Read more. (California Trout)


Keep in touch! Let us know what you’re working on and what you’re interested in learning more about.


Copyright © 2023 Hydropower Reform Coalition, All rights reserved.

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