Grantee Weekly Grind: Green Light for Condit Dam Removal a Long-Fought Victory for American Whitewater


In 2010, the Conservation Alliance awarded American Whitewater a grant to protect two dozen Wild and Scenic rivers representing more than 450 river miles, new wilderness areas that protect key watersheds, and additions to Olympic National Park that enhance watershed protection. Last month, the Washington State Department of Ecology took the final step toward the removal of Condit Dam by issuing the necessary water quality permit. AW has been working to remove this dam for nearly a decade.

 Via Andy Maser on

Last month, the Washington Department of Ecology issued the water quality permit needed to remove Condit Dam on the White Salmon River. The permit is a major milestone and is the final step before issuance of a dam removal order by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is expected later this year. Once removed, the dam will restore several miles of whitewater and allow the White Salmon’s namesake fish to recover from the brink of extinction.

The Wild & Scenic White Salmon River is one of the Pacific Northwest’s gems—very few other rivers in the country boast 365 days of vertical class V, commercial class III and IV rafting, class I floating, and ideal salmon spawning habitat. Condit dam allows no fish passage, so migrating salmon and steelhead have been cut off from this habitat since the dam was constructed.

American Whitewater has been working with local conservation groups for nearly a decade to make this a reality. AW’s Tom O’Keefe had this to say: “We believe that removal of Condit Dam will have a positive benefit on fishery resources, recreational opportunities, and cultural resources of the White Salmon River and we are thrilled with today's issuance by the State Department of Ecology that was essential to moving this process forward.”

The dam removal itself, which could happen as early as next October, will be as dramatic as they come–a crew will divert the water around the dam site, drill a hole in the bottom of the dam, pack it full of explosives, and blow it up…


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 Photo by Darrell Wyatt