15 hours ago
Monday, September 26, 2011
Damn Condit Dam is Going Bye Bye
On October 26, 2011, Condit Dam on the White Salmon River will be breached. This 97 year old dam, located 3.3 miles from the confluence of the Columbia River, standing 125 feet tall will be removed, thus draining 92 acre Northwestern Lake. This breach will allow for fish passage of Spring and Fall Chinook Salmon, Winter and Summer Steelhead as well as Lamprey. There is also speculation regarding the return of Bull Trout to the watershed, but good luck finding them. It is estimated that this breach of this very non cost effective, obsolete dam will allow for increased spawning habitat for all listed species.
Although the home owners on Northwestern Lake will miss their summer hideout, mother nature will be able to take this river back. For those of you that have driven by the mouth at Underwood, Washington, the sight of derelict boats and tribal nets are not very encouraging. If you took the time to hike up the river you would see the beauty and possibility of what might return. This portion of the river that has been under water for almost a century will produce scenery that has not been seen in a decade. Only time will tell but this river could once again become a stronghold to our native fish, and at least we are now giving them a chance.
The lower section of the White Salmon River is a thermal refuge for migrating fish up the Columbia Basin. Just like Herman Creek in Oregon and Drano Lake in Washington, this location at times can hold thousands of our anadramous fish as they make there way up the Columbia during their great migration. This fishery which is more like a stillwater fishery in most of the lower stretch will change and that is not a bad thing.
I have fished this area for years in secret, though never in the stillwater portion of the lower river. The canyon walls below the dam and fast runs and pools are breath taking. The water is hard to get to and you have to put in a lot of work to find water suitable to fly fishing. Then again the fish is not the only reason why we travel to these locations. The work and effort to get to that secret pool that only the locals know about is worth every scrape and bruised knee. Now with the changes in the river planned for this October, the river that I am used to and know will change and the fishery with it. I take solace however in that it is in the good for the fish and the habitat around it.
With the removal of the Elwah dams, Rogue River dams and now Condit, we are following a precedence that hopefully will continue and help to bring back our native fish. Please continue to help advocate and fight for our native fish. What we do now matters. Read more about the Condit Dam removal courtesy of the Osprey Steelhead News.