Known for good whitewater on the Canadian side of the border, the Similkameen carves a more mellow course in Washington State with a few class I/II rapids over the last few miles of the run. The river then cascades over Enloe Dam and the dramatic Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls), at one time used for power production, before continuing on it's course through a gorge with class III rapids and settling down as it reaches the confluence with the Okanogan River.
Enloe Dam was part of a hydropower project that generated electricity up until 1958. Although the local PUD has made various attempts to resurect the project over the years, the economics are poor and the site offers very limited capacity for hydropower production. The dam has long been a candidate for removal.
Logistics: The put-in is up at Palmer Lake where access is available from a DNR site and the run starts out with a short stretch on Palmer Creek. An intermediate access point about halfway through the run can be used as a take-out for those who want to focus on the mellow section or a put-in for others who want to concentrate on the more challenging section. A good take-out before the reservoir with easy road access is about 1.5 miles upstream of Enloe Dam at Miner's Flat, an unimproved BLM dispersed recreation area where the road closely parallels the river. It is worth checking out Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls) just below Enloe Dam as the focus of the Similkameen River Trail, which will become part of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. You can put in here to continue a run through the very scenic lower gorge down to the town of Oroville and the confluence of the Okanogan River.
The Enloe Dam was completed in 1920. It is 54 feet with a crest length of about 290 feet. The dam was named after the president of the Okanogan Valley Power Company, Eugene Enloe
Coyote Falls or Similkameen Falls were also called Squantl or the “Rock Wall” by the Similkameen Bands.
Economic analysis of Okanogan PUD Final License Application to develop hydropower at the Enloe Dam.
Decision on aesthetic flows for the proposed Enloe Hydroelectric Project.
Overview of opportunities to address impacts of dams that impact salmon and navigation.
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Coyote Falls Horizon Line
Coyote Falls and Enloe Dam
Enloe Dam and Penstock
Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls)
Similkameen River Valley
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Several dams in Washington State have known issues impacting fishery resources or river-based recreation. Some represent partial or complete barriers to fish passage that should be addressed; additionally impacts to geomorphology degrade habitat for fishery resources at many of these dams. In other cases the primary impact of the dam is on river-based recreation where the dam represents a hazard to navigation or public safety. Some of these dams may be candidates for removal while others could be modified to eliminate or reduce impacts. Several successful dam removals are also included in this story map.
News Release: March 16, 2018 – River advocacy groups filed a petition in federal court today against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) challenging its recent decision to extend construction deadlines on the Enloe Hydroelectric Project on the Similkameen River in north central Washington. Through the petition the groups seek to ensure FERC complies with clear requirements of the Federal Power Act and allows for meaningful public participation when making its decisions.
American Whitewater joined river conservation groups in releasing an updated review of the economics of restoring hydropower at Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River in Washington State. This project would cost $40 million to build, would cost more to operate than it brings in for revenue, and accumulate $170 million losses over the life of the project. It is time to remove a project that has not operated since 1958 and is simply an economic loser.
The Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board issued an order directing the Department of Ecology to do an aesthetic flow study if Okanogan PUD decides to build its economically troubled Enloe Dam project on the Similkameen River in Washington State. Of significance to the paddling community, the Order recognizes the critical importance of considering impacts to aesthetics and recreation in decisions that impact water quality.
American Whitewater has joined our partner organizations in criticizing the Washington State Department of Ecology for certifying that a proposed hydropower project would meet state water quality standards, when the project would instead effectively dewater a historic waterfall on the Similkameen River in Okanogan County.
Today, the Columbia Bioregional Education Project, joined by several conservation groups including American Whitewater, issued a new economic analysis of Okanogan Public Utility District’s proposal to re-start hydropower generation at Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River. The analysis, prepared by Rocky Mountain Econometrics concludes that it is not possible for the PUD to sell power from Enloe Dam at or above the cost of producing it, and that the PUD will lose $26 for every megawatt hour produced at the dam.
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