Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Preparing for Removal of Condit Dam

Dam removal is as controversial as ever in the Pacific Northwest and, from my experience, has a myriad of fish restoration factors to consider much less all the other addditonal considerations that go into the decision to remove a dam. Biologists in our office have done assessments that are trying to either enumerate or document the presence or absence of species in areas both upstream and downstream of Condit Dam. These assessments will provide the pre-removal "snapshot" of White Salmon River fish populations and, hopefully with additional assessments and monitoring in the years after the removal, there will be a story of the repopulation of both anadromous and resident fish species into newly available habitat.

For the past two years, I worked with several other U.S. Fish and Wildlfie Service biologists, Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery staff, PacifiCorp (owner and operator of Condit Dam), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, Yakama Nation Fisheries, The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey's Columbia River Research Laboratory on planned capture and transport of Lower Columbia River fall Chinook salmon. The breaching of Condit Dam and draining of Northwestern Lake will temporarily inundate the spawning habitat of fall Chinook salmon with sediment in the lower White Salmon River. This will in turn affect the survival of the salmon eggs placed by fall Chinook salmon in the lower White Salmon River (annually in September) immediately prior to the scheduled removal of the dam (currently October 2011). A decision was made by representatives of the previously mentioned agencies, and the operator of the dam, to transport adult fall Chinook salmon upstream of Condit Dam and allow them to spawn naturally in an area of the river that will be unaffected by sediment released from removal of Condit Dam. This decision was informed by other assessments and data collection of fall Chinook salmon spawning abundance, genetics, and juvenile production in the lower White Salmon River.

The following videos show some of the work that was performed during 2008 and 2009 assessments. In 2008, we assessed three different capture mentods in an effort to catch and transport Lower Columbia River fall Chinook salmon upstream of Condit Dam to document how successful our proposed actions might be. In 2009, we assessed the use of a resistance board weir in combination with a dormant adult salmon collection facility and a Video Passage System (VPS). Here are the links to the 2008 report and the 2009 report to view them in their entirety. Aspects of these efforts are ongoing in 2010.

Submitted by Rod Engle.


  1. I've been monitoring your blog since its inception and I find the work you do very inspiring and thought provoking. The latest entry by Rod Engle is just thrilling and the video footage really shows the fun and hard work your office puts in on a daily basis. Kudos to Rod and all your great fish biologists!

  2. Thanks, Rod, for this awesome post! I love the video - it's a really nice portrayal of what your team is up to on the White Salmon. :o)

  3. Fantastic and so very informative! Thank you for sharing your good work!

  4. Loved the video. Great to see the work you are doing and to hear the reasons for it.

  5. Thank you for your hard work preserving our Northwest Salmon. Loved watching video of salmon swimming upstream.