On July 1, 1999, the destruction of the Edwards Dam in Maine began, marking the first case of an order to remove a hydroelectric dam against the owner's wishes. Dams were constructed to provide mechanical power, and later electrical power, mainly for saw, grist, and textile mills. These mills were a substantial asset to the economy by providing jobs, but as the mills closed, the economic necessity of dams diminished. Ecologists have been identifying the environmental benefits fish and wildlife receive when rivers are restored by removing dams. The Edwards River is in the process of being restored, but the restoration of another, much larger river, the Snake River in Oregon, continues to be a source of debate. Ecologists and biologists believe restoring the Snake River will help the endangered wild salmon regain their numbers. Agricultural and industrial users of the Snake River argue that the dam still provides substantial economic benefits. The eight resources listed for this In the News topic provide current information on the Edwards dam removal, the Snake River debates, and general information on dams.
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