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Help Acquire & Conserve White Salmon Riverfront (WA), update

Posted: 07/09/2002
by Thomas O'Keefe

In April 2002 American Whitewater joined other organizations and inviduals in support of acquisition opportunities within the White Salmon's riparian corridor (previous action alert).

We are now approaching the final hour for federal appropriations. We just learned this week that Congress is funding $2.5 million for the NW Wild and Scenic Rivers program. This is good news and indicates that our first round of letters had a positive effect. For those who would like to see this project happen it's important for us to get a volume of support letters (even if you already did this earlier in the process) sent to Representative Norm Dicks and Senator Patty Murray encouraging them to appropriate $1 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the White Salmon project.

Riverfront properties available for acquisition are located downstream from Husum Falls along a reach of river currently used as a training ground for novice paddlers. We hope this reach will soon become the start of a new run out to the Columbia River with the removal of Condit Dam. Personalize your letter to include why you value the unique qualities of this Wild and Scenic river and be sure to include the following points:

  • The project is referred to as the Pacific Northwest Wild and Scenic River/White Salmon Acquisition Projects and includes five riverfront properties that are currently available for acquisition.
  • Make federal acquisition of the threatened properties along the White Salmon a funding priority in FY 2003 by appropriating the necessary $1 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

In another piece of good news, the Columbia Basin Bulletin reports (news story) that a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement issued this past week recommends that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allow the surrender of the federal hydroelectric license for the White Salmon River's Condit Dam (FERC Project No.2342) and a one-year dismantling of the structure that would begin late in 2006. This important component of full restoration of the White Salmon River now seems to be within reach. FERC staff concluded what we have been saying all along with language in the document stating, "we conclude that the benefits to anadromous fish, wildlife and whitewater recreation outweigh the costs associated with the loss of Condit Dam and Northwestern Lake." This is a staff document, and we're still awaiting a final decision by the commission (they next meet on July 17th).

With new security measures in place, mail service to Washington, D.C. is very slow. Given the time-sensitive nature of this matter, we recommend using email or fax with the target of making sure your correspondence is received by the final week in July. Be sure to include your name and full mailing address in your correspondence.

Contact Information

Senator Patty Murray
email: senator_murray@murray.senate.gov
fax: 202-224-0238

Representative Norm Dicks
web page: http://www.house.gov/dicks
fax 202-226-1176

Please send copies of your correspondence by email to:

Kristin Newman
Sr. Project Associate
Trust for Public Land
1211 SW Sixth Ave.
Portland, OR 97204
kristin.newman@tpl.org
(503) 228-6620

Jason Robertson
Access Director
American Whitewater
1424 Fenwick Lane
Silver Spring, MD 20910
jason@amwhitewater.org
866-BOAT4AW

American Whitewater's Letter:

Dear Senator Murray and Representative Dicks:

We wish to express our appreciation for your successful efforts in getting both the House and Senate Appropriations committees to allocate $2.5 million of Land and Water Conservation Funds for Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Pacific Northwest. We are writing now to ask for your assitance and support in making land acquisition opportunities along the White Salmon River a top priority for these funds.

The White Salmon Acquisition Project includes five riverfront properties that are being held off the market this year with the hope that federal acquisition funds will be targeted to this river. These properties are located along a stretch of river that serves as a popular training ground for novice paddlers.

The White Salmon River is nationally recognized for it's challenging whitewater and scenic bedrock canyons. Paddling opportunities are available for first-time paddlers and world-class experts. Consistent flows and the beautiful scenery make this a special place and we now have an opportunity to build upon past commitments to protect this river corridor for future generations.

Purchase of these properties will form an important contribution to the public/private partnership to restore ecosystem function and scenic beauty to a river that historically supported impressive salmon runs. Last month's decision by FERC to begin removal of Condit Dam (FERC Project No.2342) starting in 2006 will provide endangered salmon and steelhead with access to this reach, but efforts such as this one to protect riverside habitat are critical to bring populations back to sustainable levels. Protecting these properties from future development will not only improve habitat qualities, but also enhance the experience for the many recreational paddlers who enjoy this scenic river.

American Whitewater's mission is to conserve and restore America's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely. American Whitewater represents local paddling clubs and over 8,000 individual members throughout the United States. We work with government agencies and local conservation and recreational groups to maintain waterway access, preserve rivers and educate the public. We support programs that ensure protection of open space along rivers for ecological diversity, protection of endangered species, and opportunities for recreation.

Sincerely,

{SIGNED}

Jason D. Robertson
Access Director
American Whitewater

Tom O'Keefe
WA Regional Coordinator and StreamKeeper
American Whitewater

Jason Robertson
635 Joseph Cir
Golden, CO 80403-2349