Open Rivers Initiative: Dam Removal Funding Could Provide Major Fishery Benefits

CELEBRATION, Fla. - BASS/ESPN Outdoors and the American Sportfishing Association will lead a coalition to support a new grant program called the Open Rivers Initiative, which is designed to provide funding to communities for removal of obsolete and derelict stream barriers such as dams.  

Conservation director Noreen Clough will represent BASS and Gordon Robertson, vice president of the American Sportfishing Association, is representing the nonprofit organization.  

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the exciting new initiative Aug. 31 at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation in St. Louis, Mo.   

There are currently more than 2 million small dams and other barriers blocking fish passage in the United States. Removing obsolete low head dams and other blockages has thus far opened hundreds of miles of vitally important habitat to fish that rely on migrating through rivers to spawn. Dam removal also has boosted local economies by dramatically improving recreational fishing opportunities. By coming forth with a new funding source to remove more dams and barriers, NOAA has responded to one of the more important fisheries management problems in the United States.  

 “The Open Rivers Initiative can make a much-needed contribution to our nation’s overall aquatic health,” Clough said. “Old dams not only block fish passage and prevent spawning, they greatly diminish the amount of good habitat rivers could be providing for a variety of fish species. Recreational anglers around the country have seen the dramatic turn around fish populations have made after dam removals.”  

Clough and Robertson will head a coalition that includes BASS, the American Sportfishing Association, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Berkley Conservation Institute and Trout Unlimited, under the umbrella of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which brings leading conservation organizations and grassroots partners together in support of conserving fish and wildlife and their habitats, and ensuring access to places to fish and hunt.  

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.    

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.   

For complete details, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit  

For more about the TRCP and its partner organizations visit