Crews blasted a hole in the nearly century-old Condit Dam in Washington’s south Cascades in order to restore habitat for endangered and threatened fish. The dam once produced enough power for 7,000 homes, but PacifiCorp decided to remove the dam instead of install expensive fish passage structures.
Crews blasted a hole in the nearly century-old Condit Dam in Washington’s south Cascades in order to restore habitat for endangered and threatened fish.
The more than 12-story Condit Dam on the White Salmon River is the second-tallest dam in U.S. history to be breached for fish passage, according to the advocacy group American Rivers.
Its two turbines produced about 14 megawatts of power, enough for 7,000 homes. But its owner, Portland, Ore.-based utility PacifiCorp, elected to remove the dam rather than install cost-prohibitive fish passage structures that would have been required for relicensing.
“This is a very important day for the river and the community,” American Rivers spokeswoman Amy Kober said. “We’re not just talking about restoring vital fish runs in the region but improving a nationally renowned whitewater area.”
The White Salmon River winds from its headwaters on the slopes of Mount Adams through steep, forested canyons to its confluence with the Columbia River, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest.
The 125-foot Condit Dam, which was built in 1913, blocked fish passage for native species of Pacific salmon and other anadromous fish that mature in the ocean and return to rivers to spawn, confining them to the lower 3.3 miles of the river.
Removing the dam and restoring a free-flowing river will open up miles of new habitat for fish and likely create additional recreational opportunities for kayakers and rafters in a region already known among whitewater enthusiasts.
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