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Scenic WA River Makes National "Most Endangered" List

April 19, 2007

The White Salmon River, which flows into the Columbia Gorge, is one of the ten "Most Endangered Rivers" in the country, according to the group American Rivers. The reason is restoring native salmon and steelhead runs is impossible without removal of the Condit Dam. It's the only dam on the 45-mile river, and was slated for removal eight years ago, but it's still there. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hasn't made a plan to coordinate all the agencies and rules to get the job done. Pat Arnold of the local group Friends of the White Salmon hopes this national attention will get FERC off the dime.

"Federal, state and local are all involved. There are some unique issues, such as how does the Clean Water Act apply to the removal of a dam that has 100 years of sediment behind it?"

Arnold notes that the White Salmon's proximity to the ocean, and the fact that only one dam is involved, makes the river a prime candidate for successful wild salmon restoration. It's also a top whitewater rafting spot in the Northwest.

She adds that conservationists and scientists alike have been waiting for the project to begin, and the dam's owner, PacifiCorp, also has agreed to live without the less-than-one-percent of hydropower it generates.

"The dam doesn't actually produce much power, so from that standpoint, it's a low-cost event with a really high possibility of significant improvements in our scientific knowledge."

The latest federal promise to start the dam removal is in 2008.

See the full list and detailed information about each of the rivers on the "Most Endangered List" at

Chris Thomas/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WA