March 25, 2012
Removal of the 108-foot Elwha and 210-foot Glines dams on the Elwha River in Washington State in September of 2011 (See the story in the Aug-Sep 2012 issue of Fly Fisherman) was an historic landmark in the fight to remove old dams across the U.S. (many of them built for hydroelectric generation) to help restore trout and salmon habitats. Less noticed, but just as important, was the blow-out of a large hole in the 125-foot Pacific Corp Condit Dam on the White Salmon River, a tributary to the Columbia River, October 26, 2011, at 125 feet high the second largest dam in the U.S. to be removed. The fascinating story of the 20-year effort to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to mandate this dam removal is worth reading. It is recounted in a story by Katherine Ransel "Hope Like a Coho, Sting Like a Bee" in the January 2012 issue of The Osprey, the outstanding 3-issue Steelhead Committee newsletter of the Federation of Fly Fishers. Here is her introduction:
"When asked to explain why a utility would agree to remove a functioning hydropower project at its own expense, I had to rout among a raft of documents, some of which were nearly 20 years old, to recall the journey from the beginning of a relicensing proceeding in December of 1992 to the drama of October 26, 2011, when the dam owner, Pacificorp, blew an enormous hole in the bottom of Condit dam on the White Salmon River, in Washington state. At 125 feet, it is the second highest dam to have been breached in the United States.1 That walk down memory lane reminded me that in the seven years from intervention to the settlement accords of December of 1999, Pacificorp tried every trick in the book to avoid its responsibility for the damage its facility had visited on the river and its salmon and steelhead runs."
It should be read by all fly fishers.
The removal of Puget Sound region dams in the effort to save and restore what is remaining of wild anadromous salmonid fisheries and habitats (historically blocked by man-made dams) is the great environmental and cultural mission of this generation in the Northwest. The environmental groups that contributed two decades of their unflagging efforts to achieve justice from the federal (and state) bureaucracies in these dam removals deserve our support. To help their efforts join the Federation of Fly Fishers, Trout Unlimited or the other organizations mentioned in this story. For Ransel's whole story, go to www.ospreysteelhead.org. (Archived stories are slowly being switched over to this site and should be complete in the near future says editor Jim Yuskavitch.) To join the Federation of Fly Fishers and receive the newsletter go to fedflyfishers.org and click on the "Support Us" tab under the "Home" tab. Be sure to specifiy your donation is for The Osprey.