Earthjustice advised on some legal aspects of the case over the years, which attorney Todd True says has resulted in greater public input on other dams, and dam-removal projects around the country.
“This is a story about how the law can really catalyze some remarkable change, because the law that Rick began to work with about re-licensing these dams put this issue into the daylight so that there could actually be a discussion about it.”
Today, some refer to the historic tear-down as a miracle. Rutz disagrees, saying it was the result of years of hard work and tough questions from a lot of people.
“These big sorts of things, they don’t happen by the political process starting them. The ones who make these things happen are the public, and in the public, I’m including the tribes. The public is not only a major part of it – it’s the essential part of it.”
Scientists and federal agencies will be monitoring the federally funded project with special interest because hundreds of dams are at least 50 years old and decisions must be made about whether to maintain or remove them.
Photos and background on the dam-removal process are online at elwhainfo.org.