Search Google Appliance


News

PSU project assesses impacts of Marmot Dam, Roslyn Lake removal
Author: David Santen, Office of University Communications
Posted: April 27, 2009

NOTE: Students and faculty will give a public presentation of the study’s results Wednesday, April 29, 2009, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Clackamas Community Bank’s Theater Room (38975 Proctor Blvd., Sandy, Ore.).

(Portland, Ore.) April 27, 2009 – Breaching of the Sandy River’s 50-foot-high Marmot Dam in 2007 restored one of the few free-flowing salmonid-bearing streams within the Columbia River basin. But while the environmental impact on nearby ecosystems was significant, the economic and social implications of the dam’s removal were less understood.

A recent Portland State University project, “Services and Sustainability: Analyzing Changes from the Marmot Dam Removal,” has investigated the environmental, economic and social equity aspects of removing Marmot Dam and Roslyn Lake and the subsequent river restoration.

Faculty from a half-dozen departments and 15 graduate students worked together this winter and spring with external partners involved with the dam’s removal, including Portland General Electric (which had operated Marmot Dam); U.S. Forest Service, Mt. Hood National Forest; U.S. Bureau of Land Management; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; as well as community members and recreationists.

Students in the winter 2009 “Ecosystem Services” class at PSU conducted research in the Sandy, Ore., area exploring decision-making processes around the project, public opinions, changes in the river system, and valuation of recreation services lost with the disappearance of Roslyn Lake.

Students found that a strict cost-benefit analysis of dam removal often ignores social values, which are not as easily monetized but that could have an influence on decision-making. The class also studied the environmental impact of dam removal, developed models of successful stakeholder involvement, and produced recommendations for ways to better engage with surrounding communities.

This multidisciplinary approach to understanding the economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the dam breaching produced findings that may prove useful to scientists, managers, regulators and community members, says Elise Granek, an assistant professor of environmental sciences and resources, and the project’s co-leader.

Results from this project will help produce a template for graduate coursework on ecosystem services, in addition to creating a replicable way for assessing the ecological, economic and social sustainability effects of future dam removals. Currently, there are numerous small to mid-size dams slated for removal throughout the Pacific Northwest and United States.

“We hope that these studies will help decision-makers take a more holistic view of future dam removals and consider elements that may not be required—but are nonetheless important to society,” says David Ervin, professor of economics at Portland State University and project co-leader.

“Services and Sustainability: Analyzing Changes from the Marmot Dam Removal” received financial support by a grant from PSU's Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, part of the Miller Foundation’s ten year, $25 million investment in sustainability research and education at Portland State University.

NOTE: Students and faculty will give a public presentation of the study’s results to community members on Wednesday, April 29, 2009, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Clackamas Community Bank’s Theater Room (38975 Proctor Blvd., Sandy, Ore.).

# # #

For Immediate Release (#09-015)

By: David Santen, Office of University Communications,
Portland State University
santend@pdx.edu | 503-725-8765

Source: Elise Granek, Department of Environmental Sciences and Management,
Portland State University
graneke@pdx.edu | 503-725-4241