Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Winter 2016

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Cultural and Environmental Resource Management

Committee Chair

Michael Pease

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Lipton

Third Committee Member

Craig S. Revels


Every river system contains a unique set of attributes including biophysical characteristics, human created infrastructure, and stakeholder user groups. This thesis utilizes Lowry’s (2003) “Theoretical Framework for Policy Changes” to provide an analysis of fundamental policy change that occurred on the Rogue River in southwest Oregon through a comparative case study of the removal of two dams: Savage Rapids Dam (SRD) and the Gold Ray Dam (GRD). Fundamental change occurs when political receptivity is high and physical complexity is low. Political receptivity characterizes how decisions are made and physical complexity refers to how complicated implementing the decision may be. Application of the framework reveals the role of advocacy coalitions and socioeconomic conditions as critical factors in altering the status quo in both of the decision-making process for Savage Rapids Dam and Gold Ray Dam. With the convergence of several economic, social, and environmental factors, dam removal has emerged as a feasible river management option in not only Oregon but also across the United States.