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ACTION ALERT: Restore the White Salmon River

Posted: 09/22/2009
By: Thomas O'Keefe

There is incredible potential for the White Salmon River to once again be home to abundant wild salmon and steelhead populations and a new whitewater run. But before this vision can be realized, the 95-year old, 125-foot Condit dam, which blocks fish passage and innundates a section of river awaiting a future first descent, must be removed. The Washington State Department of Ecology is currently reviewing one of the last permits the dam owner, PacifiCorp, needs to make removal a reality.

American Whitwater has worked for more than ten years with our partners to remove Condit dam, a project which will restore access to about 33 miles of habitat for steelhead and 14 miles of habitat for chinook salmon, improve water quality and instream flows, and open a restored section of river to whitewater recreation opportunities. This project is particularly important now because scientists have determined that rivers like the White Salmon, that have late summer water flows fed by cool groundwater, will continue to provide high-quality habitat even as temperatures warm due to climate change. 

Please urge the Washington Department of Ecology by September 28 to approve the Clean Water Act 401 permit  and help the White Salmon River once again live up to its name.


We need comments from the whitewater boating community that can help us demonstrate an interest in the resource. A sample letter is provided below that provides key points you may wish to comment on. The most effective comments are those that reference your personal connection to the river and the importance of this river as a resource for the whitewater paddling community.

You can read the public notice and environmental review documents on the Department of Ecology’s website. The comment deadline is September 28. Email your comments to <>.

For extra credit you may also wish to file a copy of your comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Commission staff will be completing their final review once the water quality certification process is completed by the state. Mail a copy of your letter to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426 (be sure that the FERC project number is included in the subject field so your comments are properly filed).
Sample Letter

Subject: Approve 401 Water Quality Certification Application for Removal of Condit Hydroelectric Project (FERC Project No 2342)

Dear Decision Makers,

I support the removal of Condit Dam and the restoration of a free-flowing White Salmon River.  I am writing to urge the Department of Ecology to approve the recent application by PacifiCorp for a 401 Water Quality Certification to remove the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River.

  1. Removal is the best alternative to improve water quality and numerous other resources in the White Salmon River. 
  2. Dam removal and restoration of the natural function of the White Salmon Rivers is consistent with and furthers the goals and objectives of the Clean Water Act.
  3. The significant long-term benefits to the health of the aquatic ecosystem far outweigh the short-term impacts that will result.

Furthermore, removal of the dam will enhance recreational opportunities along a restored section of one of the region’s most iconic and popular rivers. In addition, it will allow the White Salmon River to once again be home to abundant fish runs that will be take advantage of the high quality cold water habitat this river provides.

Thank you for considering my comments.


Thomas O'Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

Phone: 425-417-9012
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