It's well-known that dams have a huge environmental impact: they are destructive, expensive, displace millions and threaten pristine wildlife habitats and populations worldwide. Not only that, there are scores of obsolete dams that still stand. And while many are working tirelessly behind the political scenes to address these urgent issues, sometimes its the unexpected that grabs your attention, like this clever bit of guerrilla graffiti tagged on an old dam near Ojai, California.
As the L.A. Times reports, the 200-foot tall Matilija Dam was constructed in 1947 as a reservoir and for flood control. However, things were not right from the beginning, as it has been depriving both silt and water from beaches 17 miles downstream. Steelhead trout populations have also declined drastically since the dam's erection.
This astute piece of graffiti is not your typical act of defacement either, as it has been gaining support from local groups, despite the odds against the dam's removal:
"We've studied this to death and talked about it forever," said Paul Jenkin of the Matilija Coalition, an alliance of community groups pushing for the dam's removal. "There's very strong support from the community, and that's part of what we're seeing with the graffiti."
[..] The group is facing obstacles comparable to those of the steelhead trout: six million cubic yards of silt, an earthquake fault, and costs estimated at more than $140 million. In better times, federal funding seemed close at hand -- but now, not so much.
The graffiti was timed well, mysteriously appearing the morning that activist groups, county officials, Army Corps of Engineers and local citizens met to discuss the dam's fate. In the meantime, despite the lack of funding there are plans to remove at least 20 feet off the top part of the dam to allow water and silt to flow again. Thanks to its part in raising local awareness about the issue, the graffiti will remain as well.
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