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Dam Removal Course

Take part in dam removal course prepared by lead experts in the field Laura Wildman and Lisa Hollingsworth-Segedy

About the course

This is a Dam Removal course led by top experts from the field and is targeted to river restoration practitioners near the beginning of their dam removal careers who are looking to remove a dam or two (or more) and are seeking advice and tools with which they could better solve the challenges they might face on the future projects. This two-day course will focus on social and technical aspects of dam removal, including dam removal planning, removal design, and construction techniques, and include an interactive public meeting exercise and interactive case examples where course participants will learn to identify potential projects and key issues.

The course will take place in Groningen, The Netherlands on April 13 and 14, 2024.

Goal of the course and why you should take it  

What better time to learn about the logistics of removing a dam than at a conference celebrating free-flowing rivers! By now you have all heard the buzz; People around the globe are removing dams and barriers from rivers and restoring entire ecosystems. Momentum is building! Now is your time to join in and make a difference.

Maybe you have passed a dam in your Town and thought “That dam is just rotting in place, no one is using it anymore”, or maybe you are part of an organization that is looking to maximize the ecological restoration within your region, or you own a dam and find the costs of maintenance and liability outweigh the benefits, or perhaps you just don’t want to hand the dam costs, both economically and environmentally, down to the next generation. Well then this is the course for you!

Removing dams can be enormously gratifying and will make a difference to communities and their rivers for many generations to come, but it is often not a simple process. There are lessons that we have learned over the last 3 decades that can help you navigate your course, from identifying potential dam removal sites to finding funding to addressing the many socioeconomic, regulatory, and technical issues.

The instructors of this course have been removing dams since the mid-1990s, have successfully removed hundreds of dams in the United States, and have been involved in a wide variety of global dam removal efforts. Our approach to this two-day course is to open a dialogue with the participants, determine where they are on their journey to restore rivers, and share with them the many things we have learned along our respective journeys. To do this we have developed this highly interactive short, where participants will get a chance to take part in a “contentious” mock public meeting as well as break off into smaller groups to review data and maps to identify critical issues for an actual dam removal site. The instructors will guide you through the process, each providing their own specialized perspective in planning, community engagement, riverine ecology, socioeconomics, and engineering.


- Small group of 30 participants
- Dynamic Approach: This interactive workshop will rely heavily on case studies, storytelling and story listening, small group exercises, and role play. Workshop leaders will provide field-tested tools that attendees can apply to their projects.
- Tailor made course to the meet needs of participants (includes pre-course preparatory work)

Learning points  

  1. How do we influence people to accept the removal of their dam?  
  2. What are strategies I can use to face opposition from people who are not scientists and don’t trust science?  
  3. How much of my project budget and timeframe should I devote to public engagement?  
  4. How do we balance natural history and cultural history concerns? 
  5. How do we identify good candidate sites for dam removal? 
  6. How do you start up a dam removal project? What are the steps? 
  7. What challenges have you run into and how have you overcome them? 
  8. How is a dam removed and how do you manage the potential impacts? 

Important information 

Date: April 13-14, 2024 – Groningen, The Netherlands

Day 1 (Saturday) – 12:30-17:00 – social aspects of dam removals (dinner 18:30)

Day 2 (Sunday) – 11:00-17:00 – technical part of dam removals


The price per student is 360€ and includes the course two coffee breaks and a social dinner.

Sponsored by