Fish runs, public safety will improve thanks to removal of Hemlock Dam

Communities across Pacific Northwest embracing dam removal, river restoration

July 1st, 2009

<P>Kavita Heyn, American Rivers, 503-827-8648  <BR>Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers,    202-243-7023</P>

Portland, OR– American Rivers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today applauded the U.S. Forest Service and other partners on the upcoming removal of the 26-foot high Hemlock Dam on Trout Creek, a tributary to the Wind River.  The project begins this week with the rescue and removal of fish from the dam removal site, and will eliminate a safety hazard, restore native fish runs, and provide local school children with an opportunity to learn about rivers and the wildlife they support. The dam removal comes in the middle of a wave of river restoration projects across the Northwest, including the recent removal of Marmot and Little Sandy dams in Oregon’s Sandy River basin, and upcoming removals on Washington’s White Salmon and Elwha rivers.

American Rivers contributed $75,000 in funding through a National Partnership with the NOAA Community-based Restoration Program to assist with the design of and removal of Hemlock Dam. Since 2001, American Rivers has partnered with NOAA to help communities around the country restore their local rivers by removing unnecessary dams. This program has provided over $3 million in financial assistance and priceless hours of technical assistance to more than 100 river restoration projects, including 16 projects in the Northwest.

“This is an exciting time for river restoration in the Pacific Northwest,” said Kavita Heyn of American Rivers. “Removing outdated dams not only means healthier salmon and steelhead runs, it can also mean cleaner water and improved flood protection for local communities.”

“It’s wonderful to see the progress we continue to make throughout Washington in restoring habitat and increasing the viability of all salmon species,” said Barry Thom, acting regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “Removal of the Hemlock Dam will give steelhead access to quality habitat and reduce the effects of high water temperatures caused by the dam.” 

The Hemlock Dam removal will help fish populations, including the currently threatened Lower Columbia steelhead, by allowing unobstructed fish passage to 15 miles of upstream habitat on Trout Creek  and many more miles of seasonal habitat on tributaries. Dam removal will also restore natural stream flows and cooler water temperatures.

Removal of the Hemlock Dam will also make the Wind River safer for local citizens. The dam was classified as High Hazard, meaning that if the dam were to fail, there is the potential for loss of life. The removal will also lessen the chances of injury from swimmers jumping off the bridge into the shallow reservoir, or being swept over the dam 

For over a decade, American Rivers has pioneered a science-based approach to the removal of outdated dams and other stream barriers that engages communities in restoring their rivers, motivates civic leaders to become champions and identifies state and federal funds to make the removals possible. Our expertise and advocacy have contributed to the removal of more than 200 dams across the country.

American Rivers is playing a lead role across the region in restoring rivers through dam removal, including efforts to remove dams on Washington’s White Salmon and Elwha rivers, and dams on southern Oregon’s Klamath River.  American Rivers and NOAA are also partnering with the Yakama Nation to remove Satus Creek Dam, near Toppenish, Washington, to reduce the risk of flooding and restore the river’s natural functions and connection to its floodplain. The removal will open up 93 miles of critical steelhead spawning habitat in the Yakima River Basin. 

Removal of Hemlock Dam will occur throughout the summer. After fish rescue and removal, sediment will be removed and parts of the dam will be deconstructed.  The project is being implemented by the Mt. Adams Ranger District of the Forest Service, and is supported by multiple partners including Bonneville Power Administration, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, EcoTrust, Salmon Recovery Funding Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Wind River Watershed Council, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and the Yakama Nation, among others. 



About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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