Why Remove Condit Dam

Removing the outdated Condit Dam will restore a healthy, free-flowing White Salmon River, making the river an even greater asset for local communities and the region as a whole.

  • Removing Condit Dam is the most cost-effective solution for the dam owner, PacifiCorp.
  • Dam removal will open 33 miles of habitat for steelhead and 14 miles of habitat for chinook, chum and coho salmon.
  • Dam removal will open up 5 miles of recreational boating runs and provide for additional recreational opportunities on the river. About 25,000 boaters use the river each year and recreation is of increasing importance to the local economy.

How Will Condit Dam Be Removed?

The deconstruction will take place during the winter to minimize impacts on fish. The reservoir will be drained through a tunnel excavated at the base of the dam. After the reservoir drains, the dam will be cut into pieces and hauled away.

The majority of the sediment currently trapped in the reservoir will wash downstream during and shortly after dam deconstruction. Scientists agree that all of the long-term benefits of the free-flowing river will far outweigh any short-term impacts immediately following the dam removal.

> View PacifiCorp's graphic depiction of Condit Dam removal >>

How Will Salmon and Steelhead Fare?

Condit Dam blocks all fish from migrating past the three lowest miles of the White Salmon River. Once Condit Dam is removed, fish will have access to an additional 33 miles of habitat above the current dam site. The White Salmon River will once again sustain fish runs that have not been able to reach its high quality waters in a century.

> Read our factsheet about fish ecology and Condit Dam removal >>

How Will the Land Be Restored?

Of the 92 acres under Northwestern reservoir, roughly one-third will become flowing river and small stream channels; one-third will become newly exposed rock canyon and cliffs; and one-third will become revegetated and forested land. Nearly 5 acres of highly functioning wetlands are expected to be restored through the removal.

> Read our factsheet about the restoration post-removal >>

Dam Removal Licensing Timeline

Done - National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, FERC, 2002. Condit Dam removal qualifies as a ‘federal action significantly affecting the human environment.’ FERC produced a 2002 Final Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement that supports the settlement agreement and dam removal.

Done - Approval from U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Section 14(d) of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area Act requires that the agency responsible for administering the scenic area (USFS) determine whether a federal action within the scenic area will protect and enhance the area’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources. The USFS determined separately that the dam removal proposal was consistent with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The latter protects two sections of the White Salmon River.

Done - Approval from the state Historic Preservation Officer. Since Condit Dam is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places FERC must consult with the Washington State Historic Presentation Officer.

Done - Final Biological Opinion, FWS, 2005. Concluded that dam removal is not likely to destroy or adversely modify bull trout critical habitat.

Done - Final Biological Opinion, NMFS, 2006. Stated ‘impact of sediment release is temporary. . . Removal will benefit threatened salmon and steelhead in the long run and won’t jeopardize their survival.’ Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation with FWS or NMFS was required due to the presence of threatened and endangered species. Section 7 of the ESA prohibits federal actions that jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or that destroy or adversely modify critical habitat.

Done - Final State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Supplementary Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) from Washington Dept. of Ecology, 2007. This document stated that, “Removing Condit Dam and restoring a free-flowing White Salmon River will have significant benefits to salmon and steelhead and overall river health. Benefits of dam removal include “increasing the run size and long-term viability by anadromous salmonid populations in the White Salmon River.”

Done - WA Dept of Ecology Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification. Finalized October 2010. This certification determines that Ecology has reasonable assurance that water quality standards will be met. This Department’s 2007 SEPA SEIS stated that the ‘long term’ period when benefits outweigh ‘short term’ damage may begin as early as 6 to 12 months after dam breaching.

Done - Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act Section 404 Certification and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. Finalized Spring 2011. CWA Section 404 regulates federally approved activities which discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act governs work in or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.

Done - License Surrender order from FERC to PacifiCorp. Issued and Accepted by PacifiCorp in Spring 2011. The surrender order from FERC spells out all remaining actions legally required to remove Condit Dam.




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