A lot of folks have brought an article from the NY Times Travel section to our attention this week. The article discusses the national trend of dam removal and waterway restoration – an exciting time for environmentalists and whitewater paddlers. With the removal of Condit dam on the horizon, those of us who paddle the White Salmon river are soon to be among the lucky beneficiaries of this trend.
“There’s also the excitement of the unknown,” said Tao Berman, a professional kayaker who lives in White Salmon, Wash., not far from the White Salmon River, which is known for its whitewater runs by kayakers the world over.
Mr. Berman has good reason to be excited these days. The Condit Dam, a 125-foot-high hydroelectric dam that has plugged the White Salmon River for 96 years, is expected to come out as early as next year. When that happens, a mile-long section behind the dam, which had been submerged under the artificial lake, will once again flow freely. There could be a series of gentle rapids or something more exciting, like a boat-flipping cataract.
“I just can’t wait to see it,” Mr. Berman, 30, said. “Is it going to unearth a great play spot, or is there going to be one really steep, difficult rapid? I have no idea.”
That said, I’d like to remember all of the work that has gone into the Condit removal (and, I’m sure, the other dams mentioned in the article). The effort of local paddlers, conservationists and American Whitewater to see through the removal of the dam has been an amazing, long term commitment. We were talking around the shop and are guessing that this has been in the works for approximately 12 years. I’m sure AW could give us a more solid number, but regardless – it’s been a long time.
So, here’s to the dedication of those of you who were involved in the discussions, the studies, and the meetings that has made the removal of Condit dam – and the subsequent opening of some new whitewater for us and the fish to enjoy – possible. Many thanks from us and future generations!