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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

EVS 300


Environmental Science and Policy


The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed alterations to or removal of four dams on the lower reaches of the Green River in Greenfield, Massachusetts, just above its confluence with the Deerfield River and not far from the point where the Deerfield River flows into the Connecticut. The two oldest dams, located in the most urban part of Greenfield, would be removed altogether. The two other dams, a little further upriver, would have fish ladders installed, so as to open the river further to spawning anadromous fish species. The fact that these proposals came from the Army Corps of Engineers sparked both interest and optimism, since the Corps had for many years possessed a well-earned reputation for building dams with little or no attention paid to environmental consequences. In this instance, by contrast, the major focus of the proposed project was environmental; for the dam alterations/removals would protect and enhance the Green River sub-watershed and the Deerfield River watershed and, by extrapolation, the much larger, regional watershed belonging to the great Connecticut River, as it flows through five New England states to Long Island Sound.

The formal proposal in February, 2007 was followed by a series of steps initiated to elicit public response to and support for the project. This was necessary in 2007, because an economic downturn, major hurricane devastation, and huge government wartime outlays severely reduced federal funds available for environmental projects. Local and State government might need to supply substantial funding in this case, perhaps above the expected 35%, for the $2million dam removals and alterations. Whether or not the projects would reach completion was therefore seen to be contingent upon building extensive, broad-based public support. Environmental activists in Greenfield were excited about watershed improvements expected to result from the proposed projects. Historic preservationists, however, warned that one of the dams slated for removal might have historic value to the community. Also, many citizens did not want local funds expended for the project under any circumstances. Further study of project costs and funding sources was needed, as well as continued careful analysis of the many overlapping issues already under consideration in this case.


© 2007 Wadleigh