Dam Removal and Historic Preservation: Reconciling Dual Objectives


American Rivers, National Park Service


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Decommissioning and removalReportsPublished   1/1/2008

This report begins with a primer on Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the federal law that applies to many proposed dam removal projects. State and local historic preservation laws may also pertain to proposed dam removal projects. In most cases, state and local historic preservation laws parallel the federal law, and compliance with all levels of jurisdiction can be achieved in a single process.

The report also examines opportunities for historic preservation and environmental interests to participate in productive discussions about whether a proposed dam removal could adversely affect historic resources and, if so, work together to identify methods for avoiding, minimizing or mitigating the adverse effects of the dam removal project.

Finally, this report provides case studies of actual dam removal projects that have addressed historic issues (see Appendix A), and an overview of federal, state, and tribal historic preservation laws (see Appendix B). Whether you are a dam owner, community member, state or federal agency, historical society, an advocate for river restoration and/or historic preservation, this report provides you with important information about reconciling the dual objectives of dam removal and historic preservation and making the often difficult choices between compelling cases to restore rivers or retain historic value.

Text excerpted from americanrivers.org.