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Report on Dam Removal in the Pacific Northwest Published

Posted: 01/07/2011
by Thomas O'Keefe

Bellingham — Today the Hydropower Reform Coalition, of which American Whitewater is a member, formally released Restore, Responsibly Reviving America’s Rivers, a special publication that provides an overview of dam removal nationally, and documents past, current, and upcoming or planned removals in the Pacific Northwest. Available now at <>

This report was developed to emphasize removal of hydroelectric and other dams, and to highlight the river restoration successes, expedited timeframes for restoration, and community and watershed benefits from hydropower dam removal in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. A complementary goal is to provide timely and credible data, and to facilitate dialogue regarding dam removal to decision makers, stakeholders and other community members.

“All dams age,” said Thomas O’Keefe, Northwest Stewardship Director for American Whitewater and a Coalition Steering Committee member. “And as they age their benefit to society can diminish. When environmental damage or safety risks begin to outweigh the economic or power benefits, then dam removal is an increasingly useful tool for river restoration.”

In the Pacific Northwest, dam removal has been studied or successfully undertaken on Oregon’s Rogue, Sandy and Hood Rivers, Idaho’s Bear River, Washington’s Trout Creek, Montana’s Clark Fork, and others. A number of additional dams are either currently under study for removal or are being removed, such as Condit dam on Washington’s White Salmon River, Mill Pond on Sullivan Creek, Trapper Creek Dam on a tributary of the Wind River, Elwha & Glines Canyon dams on the Olympic Peninsula, and Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco 2, and J.C. Boyle dams on the Klamath River on the Oregon/California border. A number of other dams, such as the Middle Fork Diversion on Washington’s Nooksack River and Growden dam within Washington’s Colville National Forest are being considered for future removal.

“More than 800 dams have been removed nationally,” says the Coalition’s Pacific Northwest Coordinator Rich Bowers. “And in the coming year we anticipate two of the largest removal efforts ever as we take down dams on Washington’s Elwha and White Salmon River that are no longer needed and no longer make economic sense.”

River restoration from dam removal in the Northwest has been significant and beneficial with more abundant fish, wildlife and recreation, improved public safety and flood protection, and better water quality. “The restoration opportunities through the removal of old, outdated or unsafe dams are impressive,” says Bowers. “The 2009 removal of Milltown Dam at the confluence of Montana’s Clark Fork and Blackfork Rivers restored connectivity over the entirety of both watersheds, and the planned removal of dams listed in this report will restore another 400+ miles of river in the Pacific Northwest. We hope the information in this report will be useful in determining the benefits and costs of future dam removal opportunities.”


ABOUT HYDROPOWER REFORM COALITION Founded in 1992, the Hydropower Reform Coalition is a consortium of more than 150 national, state, and local conservation and recreation organizations working to reform national hydropower policies and to restore rivers altered by hydropower dams. For more on the Coalition and on Restore, please visit

ABOUT AMERICAN WHITEWATER. Founded in 1954, American Whitewater is the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States in order to achieve its mission to conserve and restore America’s whitewater resources and enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely. American Whitewater serves as a hub of information and activism for its members who comprise a broad diversity of individual whitewater enthusiasts, river conservationists, and more than 100 local paddling club affiliates across America.

Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012