Summer 2023

Document Type

Master's Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Applied Environmental Science


Dam removals are becoming necessary as the costs of maintenance, safety, and environmental concerns persist. However, understanding how a river responds ecologically to dam removal in places like California is understudied. In 2015, the San Clemente Dam was removed from the Carmel River, California. The dam removal project included permanently rerouting the Carmel River to prevent most of the accumulated sediment from flowing downstream. We quantified the changes in biotic conditions using the California Stream Condition Index in 2018 and 2022. We found that the condition of the Carmel River directly downstream of the former San Clemente Dam remained relatively stable over the study period, whereas conditions directly upstream in the reroute channel were more impaired. This study provides insight into how a river can change ecologically after dam removal using a unique sediment management technique in the central coast region of California.