Portland, OR – The restoration of Washington’s White Salmon River will begin with a boom Wednesday, when a hole is blasted in the base of the 100 year old Condit Dam. The event will mark a significant milestone for river restoration regionally and nationally.
A live feed of the blast, scheduled for approximately noon Pacific time, will be available at www.americanrivers.org/yearoftheriver.
The Pacific Northwest is experiencing a river renaissance this fall. In September, the biggest dam removal project in history began on the Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River. This year, our country will mark the removal of the thousandth dam.
“This will be one of the most dramatic kick-offs to a river restoration project that we’ve ever seen,” said Brett Swift, Northwest regional director for American Rivers. “But while the blast will be exciting, it will be even more gratifying to see the restoration of the White Salmon River and its salmon and steelhead runs, and all of the benefits the free-flowing river brings to the community.”
Following the blast, the reservoir is expected to drain in approximately six hours, kicking off one of the biggest dam removal and river restoration efforts our country has ever seen. Condit Dam is 125 feet tall. Demolition of the remaining portion of the dam is scheduled to begin in spring 2012 and be completed by August 31, 2012. Restoration work throughout the former reservoir area is planned to be completed by the end of 2012.
The White Salmon River flows from the slopes of Mt. Adams to the Columbia River. Portions of the river are designated as Wild and Scenic or are protected as part of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. American Rivers and partners including the Yakama Indian Nation, Friends of the White Salmon, American Whitewater, and others have worked for almost 20 years to remove the outdated dam.
Dam removal 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—ten outfitters run commercial trips on the river, and at least 40,000 boaters use the river each year. Dam removal will create additional recreation opportunities.
In 1999, the Condit Settlement Agreement was signed by dam owner PacifiCorp and project stakeholders. Settlement parties include: American Rivers, American Whitewater Association, Columbia Gorge Audubon Society, Columbia Gorge Coalition, Columbia River United, Federation of Fly Fishers, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the White Salmon, The Mountaineers, Rivers Council of Washington, Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, Washington Trout, Washington Wilderness Coalition, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission , the Yakama Nation, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and PacifiCorp.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.