$50M Dam Removal Fund Announced 

by Hewlett Foundation & RLF


Today, a $50M "Open Rivers Fund" has been launched by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Resources Legacy Fund

This 10-year program will "identify and support community efforts to remove obsolete dams and restore rivers across the West".

We commend Hewlett and RLF for this long-term commitment to freeing our watersheds from deadbeat dams, recovering threatened wildlife, improving water quality, safeguarding the public, and reestablishing the flow of sediment to make our coastlines and wetlands more resilient.



Headquartered in Menlo Park, next to our own San Francisquito Creek, the Hewlett Foundation has strong ties to Stanford University and their Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve; the home of Searsville Dam.

We hope that the Open Rivers Fund will both raise awareness and provide an opportunity for Stanford to partner with community leaders and philanthropic organizations on removing Searsville Dam and reviving our shared watershed.


Learn more about the Open Rivers Fund here. 


SF Bay Ecosystem Collapsing as Streams Diverted by Dams;

Including Searsville

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on disturbing new studies showing how dams and water diversions are threatening the health of our San Francisco Bay.

Stanford's large-scale creek diversions, expansive lawns, thirsty golf course, and sediment blocking Searsville Dam are contributing to this ecosystem collapse. The university is both part of the problem and, potentially, part of the solution. The time has come for Stanford to eliminate this destructive and unnecessary dam and invest in the readily available and less harmful water and flood protection alternatives we have jointly identified.




White House Report Outlines Dam Removal Benefits

A recent climate change resiliency report from The White House highlights dam removal benefits:

" U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff remove the Hughesville Dam, which will reduce the risk of dam failure and upstream flooding, protect human safety, and restore access to habitats for migratory fish species."

Sec. Sally Jewell at the Hughesville Dam removal celebration

Searsville Dam dam removal can also benefits climate resiliency efforts by:

1) Restoring the flow of essential sediment, currently trapped behind the dam, to nourish and protect SF Bay wetlands and communities at risk from rising seas.

2) Eliminate the stagnant reservoir behind the dam that is exacerbating the negative impacts of climate change on our creek's water quality, toxic algae blooms, non-native species proliferation, and reduced creek flows due to reservoir evaporation.

3) In addition to eliminating the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) documented greenhouse gas emissions from Searsville Reservoir, dam removal would also enable the restoration and revegetation of submerged areas in Stanford University's  Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve , increasing carbon sequestration, and resulting in riparian and upland habitat expansion.

Stanford and Jasper Ridge have a great opportunity to become leaders in climate stewardship, watershed restoration, and dam removal research.

Full White House report here


Dams a "Significant" Contributor to Climate Change

New Study Finds


"A synthesis of 100 recent studies finds that water storage reservoirs emit as much greenhouse gases as Canada. Two of the authors explain how this happens."

As we've posted before, a USGS study found that Searsville Reservoir released the highest amount of methane of all reservoirs assessed. 

Removing Searsville Dam would eliminate Stanford's Searsville Reservoir methane emissions problem.

Article and Study here


New York Times Celebrates Dam Removal Benefits


“It’s just fantastic to see the river coming back to life so quickly after the dams have been removed”

Article HERE


Center for American Progress Report Calls for Dam Removal

A seminal new report by the DC think tank outlines why dam removal is a critical part of wise investment in our failing infrastructure and public safety.

"many dams are now obsolete, costly, aging, and unsafe." -CAP report

The report findings speaking directly to the decision that Stanford University faces about addressing their deadbeat Searsville Dam. 


The National Audubon Society Praises Dam Removal Success

"In post-dam era, salmon are bringing new vitality to the ecosystem" and helping birds.

In 2014, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, the dams on the Elwha River were removed. It was the largest removal of its kind in history. As the river ran free again, salmon from the Pacific were able to spawn upstream for the first time in 100 years.

So nutrients from spawned-out salmon and salmon eggs are giving the river’s ecosystem new vitality."

- Read the full Audubon article HERE



The National Audubon Society, state and local chapters (like Seattle Audubon Society ) recognize the broad ecosystem benefits of a free flowing river and have successfully championed several dam removal efforts. We hope that our state and local chapters will similarly recognize the watershed and ecosystem benefits of restoring San Francisquito Creek with the removal of Searsville Dam.


In Memorium- Gordon Becker

We are saddened to report the recent loss of our good friend, defender of wild fish, lover of free flowing rivers, and all around great person; Gordon Becker.

Gordon cared deeply about the health of our planet and the flowing water that gives us all life. He fought injustice and sought to restore beauty, wildness and mystery to our watersheds. He took on the bad actors willing to rob us of our natural heritage... and he often won. He helped break down barriers and let steelhead return home. Our planet is a better place because Gordon walked, floated and acted on her behalf. He also knew how to have fun with the friends he cherished in the places he loved. 

Gordon was a founding member of Beyond Searsville Dam. He volunteered hundreds of hours of his time in our pursuit of a revived and dam-free San Francisquito Creek. His efforts have paid off. When we started BSD, Stanford University staunchly defended Searsville Dam and had no plans to provide desperately needed water releases below, or fish passage above, the dam. A decade later, and with Gordon's constant support, Stanford has publically committed to developing a plan that leaves more water in the creek, eliminates non-native reservoir species, and ensures that threatened steelhead will once again return to headwater streams blocked by the dam.

Gordan helped us successfully challenge inadequate Stanford permit applications that ignored Searsville Dam and helped force the university and resource agencies to acknowledge the many problems with the dam. With Gordon's support, we have shown resource agencies and Stanford that dam removal is the only action that will provide a real and lasting solution for wild steelhead recovery and ecosystem restoration goals. Searsville Dam will be removed in the coming years. We will toast Gordon for his efforts as the concrete falls!

Our Children's Earth wrote the following tribute to Gordon as well.


Other News

More Fish Return to the Undammed Elwha River- Seattle Times

Dams Release Tons of Greenhouse Gases- Smithsonian

Hydropower Not Carbon Neutral After All- Seattle Times

Dam Removal the "Best Business Decision" - KQED

River Revives After Largest Dam Removal in US History- Nat Geo



Support BSD

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Beyond Searsville Dam today!

Online donations can be made through our non-profit fiscal sponsor Friends of the River by clicking HERE. Thanks!

Checks can be made out to Beyond Searsville Dam & mailed to:
Beyond Searsville Dam
c/o Friends of the River
1418 20th Street, Suite #100
Sacramento, CA 95811

Your tax-deductible donation will be processed by Friends of the River

(Federal Tax ID: 94-2400210)


Stanford University's 125-year-old Searsville Dam and reservoir block threatened steelhead trout, degrade water quality, harbor invasive species, evaporate limited water needed downstream, are listed by the Army Corps of Engineers as a "High Hazard" dam, emit the potent greenhouse gas methane, and prevent the flow of critically needed silt downstream to feed San Francisco Bay wetlands at risk from sea-level-rise. The dam is no longer needed and recent studies have indicated that the dam can be safely removed. It's time for Stanford to divest from this harmful relic.


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