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Opportunity to Support Condit Dam Removal

Posted: 10/19/2005
by Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater was a signatory to the settlement agreement that calls for removal of Condit Dam on the White Salmon River, restoring the 5 mile Buck Creek to Columbia River section of the White Salmon, a new section on one of the region's most spectacular whitewater resources. PacifiCorp, current owner of the hydroelectric project, has committed to implementing this important restoration project in the fall of 2008. You can review the PacifiCorp Brochure and Commonly Asked Questions for a quick summary.

The public has an opportunity to comment on a Draft State Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) recently published by the Washington Department of Ecology. The DSEIS analyzes the impacts of removing Condit Dam and is a critical step on the path to removal. WDOE is holding a public hearing at which it will discuss its recent analysis, respond to questions, and take public comment. Come show your support for removing Condit Dam and restoring a free-flowing White Salmon River. Removal of the Condit Project will provide numerous fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetics benefits and is supported by the dam owner, federal and state agencies, tribes, and a multitude of conservation organizations. A few of the many benefits of removal are listed below.

When: October 25
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Where: Pack Center Building, 170 NW Lincoln St, White Salmon (map)

Written comments are due November 15th (see below).

Dam Removal Benefits

  • Dam removal would provide the best conditions for migration of anadromous salmonids within the White Salmon River Basin. Project facilities and operations would not hinder restoration goals in the basin.
  • Over the long-term, the project removal alternatives offer the greatest potential for full utilization of anadromous fish habitat, and therefore, full restoration of anadromous salmonids within the White Salmon River basin.
  • Removing the dam will restore several cultural salmon fishing sites that have been used by Yakama Nation and other tribes since time immemorial.
  • Dam removal would provide increased whitewater recreation opportunities. It will add more than 5 continuous miles of whitewater to this renowned whitewater river, 7.7 miles of which are currently designated as Wild and Scenic. Commercial and non-commercial use of the river for white-water activities will benefit local businesses that are dependent upon tourism and recreational income.
  • Dam removal would provide substantial long-term benefits to the scenic area and scenic river management objectives of the area.
  • Complete dam removal could provide the greatest benefits to the visual quality of the areas by linking the upstream scenic river setting to the scenic gorge area downstream through the canyon now occupied by Northwestern Lake.

Additional information is set forth in WDOE's press release below.

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Department of Ecology Press Release -October 3, 2005, 05-244

Public comment invited on Condit environmental report

YAKIMA - The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) is accepting comments on a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) that looks at what affects removing Condit Dam might have on the ecology of the White Salmon River in Klickitat County.

The document primarily addresses water quality concerns and is a supplement to environmental impact studies on the proposal by PacifiCorp to remove the hydroelectric project, prepared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The additional information is needed before the state can make a decision on whether the proposal to remove the dam will meet state water-quality and other environmental mandates. The state must approve water-quality certification and a state construction stormwater permit before the dam can be removed.
Ecology hired URS Corporation, a Seattle consulting firm, to independently evaluate the FERC document to determine whether it met state environmental regulations.

"While the FERC document covered most of the issues, more information was needed on both long-term and short-term water-quality concerns surrounding dam removal," explained Derek Sandison, central region director for Ecology. "Concerns included how backed-up sediments and debris would be managed, as well as what effects dam removal would have on wetlands, endangered fish and fish passage."

An open house will be held on Oct. 25, during which both verbal and written comments will be accepted on the draft SEIS. The open house will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Park Center Building, 170 NW Lincoln St., in White Salmon.

The draft SEIS may be viewed on line at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/0506022.html. For a compact disk or hard copy, call (509) 575-2808.

Written comments may be sent to Ecology's Derek Sandison at 15 W. Yakima Ave., Suite 200, Yakima, WA 98902, or may be emailed to ConditDam@ecy.wa.gov , no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 15.

The Portland, Ore., energy company PacifiCorp owns the dam, which has produced hydroelectric power on the White Salmon River since 1913. The company is seeking to decommission and remove the dam.

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Associated Projects

White Salmon Restoration (WA)
American Whitewater has been engaged in a long-term effort to protect and restore one of the Pacific Northwest's most spectacular year-around whitewater rivers.