Year of the River

Restoring Healthier Rivers for People and Wildlife

This is part of a series on restoring rivers and dam removal that we are sharing as we celebrate one of the greatest river restoration projects. It started with the removal of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River on September 17, 2011, and continued with the removal of the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River on October 26, 2011.

Watch the Video of the Condit Dam Breach

The Year of the River

We are celebrating two major river restoration efforts. The removal of outdated dams on Washington’s Elwha River and White Salmon River will bring the rivers back to life and deliver a wide variety of benefits to local communities.

American Rivers dubbed 2011 “the year of the river” because of these and other historic river restoration projects. In fact, this year we will reach the significant milestone of 1000 dams removed in the U.S. Explore the links below to learn about the Elwha and White Salmon, and other rivers being restored through dam removal. And, learn about why healthy rivers are so important for our health, economy, and quality of life.

For additional information, contact Amy Kober.

White Salmon River, Washington

The White Salmon River flows from the slopes of Mt. Adams to the Columbia River. Portions of the river are designated as a Wild and Scenic or are protected as part of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. American Rivers has worked for more than 10 years with our partners including the Yakama Indian Nation to lead the effort to remove the 95-year old, 125-foot Condit Dam. Removal of the dam will restore access to 33 miles of habitat for steelhead and 14 miles of habitat for chinook salmon. The river is recognized as a premier whitewater destination—10 outfitters run commercial trips on the river, and 40,000 boaters use the river each year. Dam removal will create additional recreation opportunities. On October 26, 2011, a hole was blasted at the base of the dam to drain the reservoir – a major milestone in this river restoration effort

Elwha River Washington

The Elwha flows out of the mountainous heart of Olympic National Park to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Puget Sound. It once supported six species of Pacific salmon and steelhead and has been the home of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe since time immemorial. Dismantling the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams will allow the river to flow freely for the first time in 100 years, restoring over 70 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat. At 210 feet tall, Glines Canyon Dam will be the tallest dam ever removed. American Rivers helped secure more than $50 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Elwha River restoration. Dam removal began Sept. 17, 2011, and is targeted for completion within 3 years.In July 2012, wild steelhead were already spotted beyond the free flowing stretch of the river that used to be Elwha Dam, for the first time in a century.

About Rivers and Dams

Dams block a river’s natural flow and hurt the health of the river and its fish and wildlife. Removing outdated or obsolete dams can bring significant benefits to communities, including public safety, clean water, flood protection, wildlife, recreation, and jobs. American Rivers is the national leader in removing dams that no longer make sense to restore river health and revitalize communities. By healing our rivers, we hope to leave a better future for our children and grandchildren.