Feds Open Gates for Condit Dam Removal this Fall

River restoration on Washington’s White Salmon River will benefit fish and recreational users.
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River restoration on Washington’s White Salmon River will benefit fish and recreational users.

Earlier today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released a decision that completely clears the way for dam removal activities to begin on Washington State’s White Salmon River. Condit Dam will be removed this October, assuming all goes according to plan. The decision to remove the dam was made years ago, however the question of how soon it could be removed was the subject of a recent disagreement between FERC and dam removal supporters. FERC’s decision today resolves several process-related points of conflict that could have delayed the removal for upwards of a year. “It is just great that FERC recognized the incredible commitment that we all have to removing Condit Dam this year, and the incredible benefits that prompt removal will bring for fisheries and public recreation,” proclaimed Thomas O’Keefe, American Whitewater’s Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director. American Whitewater is part of a diverse group of stakeholders that negotiated the original removal agreement. Fed by nearby mountain springs with consistent summer flows of cool water, the White Salmon provides year-round boating for paddlers and critical cold water habitat for fish trying to escape the heat of summer. O’Keefe explained restoration of this river is important for both fish and recreational users. The 125-foot dam will be one of the largest dams ever removed in a multi-step process that will result in draining the reservoir in approximately six hours. The rapid draining process is designed to more efficiently flush the estimated 2.3-million cubic yards of sediment that have accumulated behind the dam in the century since its construction. The removal of Condit Dam is one of the most exciting current river restoration initiatives in the United States, according to O’Keefe ABOUT AMERICAN WHITEWATER. Founded in 1954, American Whitewater is the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States. In order to achieve its mission to conserve and restore America’s whitewater resources and enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely, American Whitewater serves as a hub of information and activism for its members who comprise a broad diversity of individual whitewater enthusiasts, river conservationists, and more than 100 local paddling club affiliates across the United States.