What Do We Know About What to Do With Dams?: How Knowledge Shapes Public Opinion About Their Removal in New Hampshire

Simone T. Chapman, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
Catherine M. Ashcraft, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
Lawrence C. Hamilton, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
Kevin Gardner, University of Louisville


In this brief, authors Simone Chapman, Catherine Ashcraft, Lawrence Hamilton, and Kevin Gardner report the results of an October 2018 Granite State Poll that asked 607 New Hampshire residents how much they have heard, and their thoughts, concerning the question of whether older dams on New Hampshire rivers should be removed for ecological or safety reasons, or whether the dams should be kept.

Most people admitted they have not heard or read about this issue, but at the same time they agreed that dams could be removed in at least some cases. The more people heard or read about the issue of dam removal, the more likely they were to support removal in some or most cases. These survey results highlight the need for communicating sound information to the public concerning the costs and benefits of possible dam management options— whether doing nothing, repairs and maintenance, or removal.