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Hemlock Dam Removal Underway (WA)

Posted: 08/13/2009
By: Thomas O'Keefe

After several years of anticipation another dam is being removed and a river is set to be restored this fall in the Columbia Gorge. Hemlock Dam which has been a barrier to fish passage and plugged up Trout Creek, a major tributary of the Wind River, was removed just a few weeks ago. The crews are out doing the final work on restoring the historic channel and if all goes well over the next couple days water will once again flow over beautiful river-polished bedrock that was buried under a reservoir for decades. Vegetation planing is just getting underway and will continue through next year. Soon after we anticipate playing a role in helping develop a vision for a spectacular new day-use site along a restored river.

Hemlock Dam was constructed in 1935 to generate hydropower for the USFS Wind River Ranger District but the project ceased operation in the 1950s. The dam was later used for irrigation water for the Wind River Nursery. Trout Creek supports Lower Columbia River Steelhead that were listed as Threatened in 1998 and the project will improve upstream and downstream fish passage. In addition navigational passage will be restored.

Hemlock now joins Marmot Dam and Little Sandy Dam as dams in the Columbia Gorge that exist only as memories. We are currently working to restore the White Salmon River through the removal of Condit Dam. Powerdale Dam on the Hood River also awaits removal.

A big shout out and thanks to our partner organizations who have played a big role in making Hemlock Dam Removal a reality including the Gifford Pinchot Task Force (Hemlock Dam removal), American Rivers (Hemlock Dam removal), CRAG Law Center, and Clark-Skamania Flyfishers. The Forest Service has done a tremendous job with this project. They have a great Hemlock Dam removal website with a web came where you can keep track of progress on the project.

See related story on AW's dam removal work in this past Sunday's New York Times.

Thomas O'Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

Phone: 425-417-9012
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Pacific Northwest Dam Removal Fact Sheets 5AUG2007 (8/5/2007)

Fact sheet on dam removals scheduled for the Pacific Northwest.

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