Condit Dam demolished; removal to open miles of river for fish habitat and recreation

Here’s something you don’t see everyday: the demolition (intentionally) of a dam. Faced with the high cost of renovating the 100-year old Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in southern Klickitat County, the owners — PacificCorp — opted to remove the structure. And they did so in dramatic fashion Wednesday by blasting a hole at the base of the dam to drain the reservoir behind it. While video of the event is impressive, more notable is that removal of the dam will restore access to 33 miles of habitat for steelhead and 14 miles of habitat for chinook salmon. AmericanRivers.org says the river also is a premier whitewater destination attracting thousands of boaters each year. Dam removal will create additional recreation opportunities once restoration work is completed.

DNR manages several thousand acres of forested state trust land to the west of the White Salmon River drainage. A special spot a few miles from Wednesday’s dam removal is the White Salmon Oak Natural Resources Conservation Area. DNR manages the area for hiking and horseback riding, and to preserve a unique example of this landscape before European settlement.

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