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Dam Relicensing


photo of sturgeon blocked from upstream movement by dam

Dams block the upstream and downstream movement of fish. Here, sturgeon congregate at the base of a dam that is preventing them from swimming upstream to spawn.

Photo by USFWS


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorizes the initial construction of non-Federal hydropower projects (i.e., dam construction) and reconsiders licenses every 30 to 50 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts environmental reviews during relicensing.


Although hydropower projects can be an important source of renewable energy, they also dramatically change the nature of rivers. Some of the impacts that result from dam construction and maintenance include changing the natural seasonal pattern of river flows, creating reservoirs, blocking fish passage, fragmenting river systems, and increasing streambank erosion.


Our environmental reviews result in license conditions that address those impacts and improve fish and wildlife habitat.



September 29, 2011: Close Encounters with Living Rocks (Wisconsin ES Field Office) Mussel Surveys for Relicensing Dams near Gresham, WI


August 16: Menominee River Fish Passage Project Field Review (Wisconsin ES Field Office)


May 2011: Dam Pallids (Columbia Missouri ES Field Office) Lower Osage River Survey


August 25, 2009: Fish Protection Installed at Prairie Du Sac Hydroelectric Dam on the Wisconsin River (Wisconsin ES Field Office)


July 13, 2009: Plan provides much-needed lake sturgeon passage on the Menominee River (Wisconsin ES Field Office)


June 8, 2009: Progress Toward Re-establishing Lake Sturgeon Passage on the Menominee River (Wisconsin ES Field Office)


January 26, 2009: Boardman River Dams Committee’s Recommendations for the Boardman River Dams (East Lansing, Michigan, ES Field Office)


October 21, 2008: Re-establishing a natural flow regime on the Menominee River


September 22, 2008: Working to Re-establish Fish Passage on the Menominee River

(Wisconsin ES Field Office)


August 9, 2007: Service, Army Corps, Wisconsin DNR, and Hydro Owner Conduct a Water Flow and Spawning Habitat Protection Study for Lake Sturgeon in Lower Fox River Tributary of Lake Michigan (Wisconsin ES Field Office)


May 15, 2007: Hydroelectric Project Powers Fish and Freshwater Mussel Conservation in Lake of the Ozarks (Columbia Missouri ES Field Office)


September 21, 2007: Lake Sturgeon Protection Plan for Lower Fox River Provides Ppportunity for Population Recovery


September 25, 2006: Service, Army Corps, Wisconsin DNR, and Hydro Owner Develop Plan for Adequate Water Flow to Protect Lake Sturgeon Spawning and Reproduction in Lower Fox River Tributary to Lake Michigan (East Lansing, Michigan, ES Field Office)




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Last updated: April 22, 2015