American Rivers receives $1.4 million for river restoration and salmon recovery from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation

December 11, 2019

Grant will advance four priority dam removal projects

December 11, 2019

Amy Kober, American Rivers, 503-708-1145

Seattle – Recovery of Pacific Northwest Chinook salmon runs will get a major boost, thanks to a grant of $1.4 million from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to American Rivers.

The grant will facilitate the removal of four dams in Oregon, restoring more than 26 miles of habitat for Chinook salmon and 129 miles of habitat for other fish species in the next three years. The dams block fish from migrating to and from spawning grounds and harm the natural habitat and water quality that salmon and other fish and wildlife need to survive. Southern Resident killer whales (orcas), which range from Puget Sound to Oregon, are facing a crisis because of a lack of Chinook salmon, their primary food source.

The projects will have additional benefits including recreational improvements, development of a park, visitor access and educational outreach.

“We are grateful for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s vision and leadership. Thanks to this generous support, we can continue to work across the region to restore the healthy, free-flowing rivers that are essential to the future of our salmon, orcas and communities,” said Wendy McDermott with American Rivers.

The grant will also support American Rivers in building capacity for river restoration region-wide, so that high-quality and community-supported dam removal projects in the Northwest can be identified and implemented more quickly in order to support habitat restoration and recovery.

“As we’ve seen with other dam removal projects here in the Northwest and nationwide, rivers are remarkably resilient. Our rivers will come back to life and our salmon will rebound, if we remove outdated dams and improve infrastructure. Restoring these rivers is an investment in this special place we all call home,” said McDermott.

“These four projects provide a near-term opportunity for a measurable increase in salmon habitat, bringing ecological benefit while also supporting communities,” said Anji Moraes on behalf of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “The survival of Southern Resident Orcas requires that our region pursue solutions to increase Chinook availability.”

American Rivers worked with partners to identify priority dam removal projects that can be completed in the next three years. Funding from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will make it possible to:

  • Increase access to 13 miles of habitat for Chinook salmon on Williams Creek, a tributary of the Rogue River, by removing Lower Bridgepoint Dam
  • Restore 6 miles of Chinook salmon habitat and 60 miles of steelhead habitat in Evans Creek, a tributary of the Rogue River, by removing Wimer Covered Bridge Dam
  • Restore 2 miles of Chinook salmon habitat in Kelley Creek, a tributary to Portland’s Johnson Creek, by removing the Kelley Creek Dam
  • Restore 5 miles of Chinook salmon habitat in the North Fork Klaskanine, a tributary to Young’s River and the Columbia River, by removing the North Fork Klaskanine Dam

Salmon and steelhead are central to the Pacific Northwest’s cultures, identity, economy and environment. These fish bring rich, marine nutrients upriver to Northwest forests and provide sustenance for iconic species, including orcas. Thousands of dams across the region have cut off habitat for Chinook and other salmon runs. Without abundant Chinook runs, orcas are starving, the region’s indigenous people are denied a central component of their culture and well-being, and communities across the region are suffering.

American Rivers began a partnership in 2017 with The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, City of Bellingham, and others to remove the Middle Fork Nooksack Diversion Dam near Deming, Washington. The project, which will restore 16 miles of habitat for Chinook, while maintaining Bellingham’s supplemental water supply among other important benefits, is scheduled to begin construction in 2020.


American Rivers believes every community in our country should have clean water and a healthy river. Since 1973, we have been protecting wild rivers, restoring damaged rivers and conserving clean water for people and nature. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., and offices across the country, we are the most effective river conservation organization in the United States, delivering solutions that will last for generations to come.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
Launched in 1988 by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and his sister Jody Allen, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation is dedicated to changing the trajectory of some of the world’s toughest problems as well as strengthening communities through catalytic philanthropy.