Earlier today the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released a decision that supports and orders the removal of Condit Dam, located on Washington's White Salmon River in October of this year. Today's decision clears the path forward for one of the most exciting river restoration initiatives in the United States!
The decision follows a procedural disagreement between FERC and the groups that negotiated an agreement calling for the removal of Condit Dam in 2011. American Whitewater, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, Washington Dept. of Ecology, and Pacificorp filed a formal request that FERC reconsider a process-related decision that would have delayed the dam removal until the fall of 2012. Today, FERC recognized the value of removing Condit Dam this year, and completely cleared the way for removal activities to begin.
FERC's decision was based at least in part on the commitment to timely removal expressed by Pacificorp and other stakeholders, as well as the ecological and recreational value of removing the dam. FERC wrote that "The benefits [of dam removal] would consist primarily of providing anadromous salmonids access to up to 18 miles of White Salmon River mainstem and tributary habitats that have long been inaccessible, benefiting wildlife dependent on anadromous fish in these upstream river reaches, and providing increased whitewater recreation opportunities."
While FERC acknowledges that the dam owner may request a one year extension if needed, we remain hopeful and optimistic that by the end of this year we will be celebrating a freeflowing Wild and Scenic White Salmon River.
This decision has been over a decade in the making, and is certainly cause for celebration. American Whitewater has worked closely with our partners to envision, study, and negotiate this landmark river restoration initiative. Since reaching an agreement calling for the removal of the dam, we have tirelessly advocated that state and federal regulators support the dam's timely removal.