US Senator John Warner, and officials from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have announced that the Embrey dam on the Rappahannock river in Virginia will be removed in 2002 to restore the river and facilitate fish migration.

The concrete dam was constructed in 1910 to generate hydroelectricity but no longer produces power. The removal of the 6.7m structure will open more than 274km of spawning habitat in the Rappahannock river and its tributaries to fish such as American shad and striped bass. A coalition of environmental groups led by Friends of the Rappahannock, American Rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has lobbied for the removal of the dam.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) reports that blockages by dams are a key factor in the decline of shad and herring in the state’s rivers. Because shad and herring are not highly adept at jumping, the DGIF concluded that a fish ladder at Embrey dam would not be effective in conveying shad over the dam.