Des Plaines River dams being removed to restore natural flow

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Canoeists and kayakers slow down as they approach a Des Plaines River dam in Mettawa's Daniel Wright Woods Forest Preserve during the Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon on Sunday, May 17, 2015. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

VERNON HILLS, Ill. (AP) — Dams that have hindered the flow of the 133-mile-long Des Plaines River for more than a century are coming down.

Conservation officials, scientists and engineers are removing the dams along the waterway that flows from Wisconsin through northeastern Illinois to restore its natural flow.

The Chicago Tribune reports that six dams have been removed since 2011, and more are coming down. That includes two dams near Vernon Hills that will be removed this summer.

Most were built beginning in the 1920s and 30s.

Experts say dams hurt water quality and limit fish migration, as well as causing safety hazards for paddlers and anglers. Removing them helps restore habitat for fish, insects and plants.

The project mirrors a nationwide trend, with 72 dams removed across the country last year.

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