Synthesis of Common Management Concerns associated with dam removal.
Managers make decisions regarding if and how to remove dams in spite of uncertainty surrounding physical and ecological responses, and stakeholders often raise concerns about certain negative effects, regardless of whether these concerns are warranted at a particular site. We used a dam-removal science database supplemented with other information sources to explore seven frequently raised concerns, herein Common Management Concerns (CMCs). We investigate the occurrence of these concerns and the contributing biophysical controls. The CMCs addressed are the following: degree and rate of reservoir sediment erosion, excessive channel incision upstream of reservoirs, downstream sediment aggradation, elevated downstream turbidity, drawdown impacts on local water infrastructure, colonization of reservoir sediments by nonnative plants, and expansion of invasive fish. Biophysical controls emerged for some of the concerns, providing managers with information to assess whether a given concern is likely to occur at a site. To fully assess CMC risk, managers should concurrently evaluate site conditions and identify the ecosystem or human uses that will be negatively affected if the biophysical phenomenon producing the CMC occurs. We show how many CMCs have one or more controls in common, facilitating the identification of multiple risks at a site, and demonstrate why CMC risks should be considered in the context of other factors such as natural watershed variability and disturbance history.