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Environment secretary: Return of herring is a state regulatory success story | READER COMMENTARY

William Harbold, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, steers a raft during a survey for migratory herring on the Patapsco River in the Ilchester area of Howard County. (Handout/Baltimore Sun/Jim Thompson/DNR).
William Harbold, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, steers a raft during a survey for migratory herring on the Patapsco River in the Ilchester area of Howard County. (Handout/Baltimore Sun/Jim Thompson/DNR). (Jim Thompson, Maryland DNR)

Great thanks to Dan Rodricks for spotlighting an inspiring ecological success in “Obama’s herring: Removing dams on the Patapsco brings back a silvery little fish” (April 1). Here’s the not so inspiring, but equally important, behind-the-scenes story: Removal of the Bloede Dam allowing the return of river herring to the Patapsco River near Ellicott City would not have happened without the teamwork of state agencies including the regulators, managers, funders and lawyers at the Department of the Environment, the Department of Natural Resources and the State Highway Administration.

Dan gives due credit to biologists at DNR and some funders and advocates at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and American Rivers who were instrumental. But big ideas and innovations, like dam removals, only happen when problem solvers at all levels take leaps of faith to overcome regulatory barriers and financial and political risks. State teamwork really made the dream work here, and it shows what is possible when diverse partnerships come together and stick together for big environmental gains.

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Ben Grumbles, Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

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