Free Flowing Rivers Make Way for Salmon

Published 10/25/2021  |  Hydropower Reform Coalition, Columbia Riverkeeper

Guest blog by Columbia Riverkeeper

If it was possible for the White Salmon, it’s possible for the lower Snake River. Let’s save our salmon.

Footage by Mocdoc Documentaries and Andy Masser Editing by Corey Birnstengel

Take down the lower Snake River dams.

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Ten Year Anniversary: Success of Condit Dam Removal Shows Snake River Dams Should Go, Too

 Free Flowing Rivers Make Way for Salmon

 October 25, 2021 (Portland, Ore.)—Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the Condit Dam removal. On that day, the White Salmon River in south-central Washington flowed unimpeded for the first time in 100 years. The resurgence of salmon and steelhead in the White Salmon highlights the benefits of removing Lower Snake River dams, as Northwest leaders are currently contemplating.

“Condit gives us a glimpse of what’s possible with dam removal,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “Thinking about bigger rivers, imagine the fish returns we could see if the four Lower Snake River dams were removed?”

Fish biologists from the Yakama Nation’s Fisheries program have observed adult salmon and steelhead in the White Salmon River above the former dam site. And a 2016 report by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Geological Survey found: “it is clear that the White Salmon River has once again become home for anadromous salmonids and other migrating fish species.”

“It was a powerful moment ten years ago when the White Salmon once again was freed,” said Yakama Nation Tribal Councilman Jeremy Takala. “In the ten years since we have witnessed salmon and steelhead recolonizing long dormant mainstem reach and tributaries. This is what the Creator intended for our sacred salmon to spawn and rear throughout the clear cold waters of the White Salmon, and replenish the watershed with their life-giving nutrients. We are grateful to all the hard work of all partners over the decades and the continued efforts of the White Salmon Community to protect this river.”

“The restoration of the White Salmon River shows that there’s nothing like tearing down a dam to bring a river back to life,” said Wendy McDermott of American Rivers. “We are grateful to the Yakama Nation for leading efforts to restore the health of the river and its salmon. A free-flowing river represents strength and opportunity for its communities, and resilience for fish and wildlife in an era of climate change. It’s never been more clear that our greatest natural assets in the Pacific Northwest are our clean, healthy, free-flowing rivers and we must continue to hold our elected leaders accountable for their protection and restoration.”

Tribal Nations, fishing groups, and conservation organizations have called on the Pacific Northwest congressional delegation to obtain funding to breach the four Lower Snake River Dams, which would cool the Snake River and help salmon recover in this larger tributary of the Columbia.


B-roll of Condit Dam Removal Oct. 26, 2011 by Andy Maser

B-roll of free flowing White Salmon River October 2021 by Modoc Stories



This post originally appeared on Columbia Riverkeeper.

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