Embrey Dam Removal Heralds Larger Trend

The Army Corps of Engineers blew up the Embrey Dam in Fredericksburg, Va., yesterday, allowing the Rappahannock River to flow unmolested from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay for the first time since 1910 — and making it the longest free-flowing river feeding into the Chesapeake, a renewed migration route for fish that live in the bay but swim upriver to freshwater to spawn. The dam was originally used to generate power, and then to create a drinking-water reservoir, but for the past five years has been essentially useless. The multiyear community movement to remove the dam, led by local environmental groups, is part of a trend that has given some in the Corps a new sense of purpose. “We’re not only restoring fish runs, but also restoring the entire habitat” in areas where dams are being removed, said Beverley Getzen, chief of the Office of Environmental Policy at the Corps. Several dams in California are scheduled for demolition in coming years.