The evolution of the modern dam conflict on the Snake River, USA

Hannah L. Hilbert-Wolf, Andrea K. Gerlak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As dams age and values shift, communities face dam removal decisions that involve navigating complex social, economic and ecological interactions. Sometimes, this results in decades-long conflicts, such as that over the removal of the four lower Snake River dams (LSRD) in Washington State, USA–the focus of this study. We apply a broad analytical framework to understand how key factors in this conflict perpetuate it. We find that western science and economic expertise are politicized, and that while venues and geographies for stakeholder engagement are expanding, these shifts are not powerful enough to interrupt the cycle of litigation sustaining the LSRD debate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1349-1369
Number of pages21
JournalWater International
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2022


  • Dams
  • Snake River
  • conflict
  • dam removal
  • politicization
  • salmon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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