by Kathleen Dean Moore, excerpted from Amazing Grace
…I have come to believe that dam-breaching is not really about dams. It’s probably not even about fish. Dam-breaching is America’s own exercise in truth and reconciliation. For a hundred years we thought we could have it all — cheap power, salmon, and alfalfa fields in the desert — but we were wrong. …We thought we needed power and wealth, but we discovered to our sorrow that what we really need are health and beauty and a way of life that listens to the land.
What humans destroy, we often destroy forever. … But a river? A river has the power to forgive. To breach a dam is to admit mistakes, and so to release the power of the river to heal itself, to begin to heal the rift between human and nature, user and used…
…Maybe the people will cheer. Maybe they will pray. Maybe they will weep when they see the pale riverbed, drowned for a very long time. But the first rain will clean the highest rocks, the first flood will cut a channel through the silt. Storksbill and balsamroot will poke up between slabs of mud drying on new riverbanks, and I know from experience that there will come a time — maybe a very long time, but in our lifetimes if we live right — when the roots of willows will reach into clear water again.