[imgcontainer] [img:elwhadam.jpeg] The Elwha River Dam in Washington was scheduled for destruction Saturday, one of a number of dams being removed from the nation’s rivers. [/imgcontainer]

Juliet Eilperin reports that the largest dam demolition in U.S. history takes place Saturday with the destruction of the 108-foot Elwha River Dam in Washington. 

The Washington Post reporter says this is part of a broader movement in the way the nation is managing its rivers:

Faced with aging infrastructure and declining fish stocks, communities are tearing down dams across the country in key waterways that can generate more economic benefits when they’re unfettered than when they’re controlled.

“What once seemed radical is now mainstream,” said American Rivers President Bob Irvin, whose group has advocated dam removal for environmental reasons. “All of these are experiments in how nature can restore itself, and the Elwha is the biggest example of that.”

The pace of removal has quickened, with 241 dams demolished between 2006 and 2010, more than a 40 percent increase over the previous five years. Many of them are in the East and Midwest, having powered everything, including textile mills and paper operations at the turn of the 20th century.

•Yonder reader Shel Anderson notes two stories showing rural areas taking the brunt of local government cutbacks.

The first story, from North Carolina, notes that cuts in staff at public schools have not been evenly spread around the state. “Although almost all districts report eliminated staff positions, losses were highly concentrated in rural eastern, western, and south-central North Carolina,” writes Ed McLenaghan with The Progressive Pulse. (There’s a good map and data with the story.) 

Also, Crosscut.com reports that there is a rise in the number of public school students in Washington state who are homeless. The number of homeless elementary and high school students had increased from 16,853 in 2006-7 to 21,826 this year. 

The increase in homeless students is not even across the state. “The percentage of homeless children within public school student populations has risen highest in rural counties,” according to reporter Judy Lightfoot.

• More schools are adding gardening to the curriculum. “We want to encourage kids to get their hands in the dirt,” said University of Kentucky horticulture professor Mary Witt. 

• Young adults, many of them, like inner city neighborhoods. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that young adults are concentrating in several neighborhoods near downtown Louisville. 

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