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The aging of America's dams, coupled with increasing awareness of their environmental costs, has brought dam decommissioning and removal to the attention of the scientific community, management agencies, and the general public. Over the past two years, dam removal has been the focus of special sessions at the annual meetings of numerous scientific societies (e.g., American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, Ecological Society of America, Association of American Geographers) as well as groups focusedon bridging science and policy [Heinz Center, 2002].

Here we briefly examine why dam removal has emerged as a critical issue, the realities of ongoing dam removal efforts and the current policy vacuum, and the need for expanded scientific research to support policy development.