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I have to post about this…

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I have to write about the removal of the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington. Just yesterday, dam removal began with an explosion, allowing the White Salmon to rush through the dam. You can see a photo blog here, or read more about it here and here. Even though I’m on the other side of the country, this is really something incredible. This river has been dammed for 100 years and in one day, the reservoir was drained, and the river is running through a hole in the base of the dam. Incredible! The complete removal will be finished sometime next summer, but it’s amazing that fish will be again be able to swim upstream of the Condit Dam. Wow.

For me, there is something awesome and majestic about rivers, and to think of a river that had been turned into a lake for 100 years to be transforming back into a river is just awe-inspiring. Obviously when these dams were built, people didn’t really understand river science or fish ecology. In fact, some of the research I’m doing right now is giving me a sense for how people viewed hydropower in the early 1900s — they felt that there was an incredible amount of potential to generate electricity from hydropower, and wanted to be sure that dams were developed to provide this power for people. But, to see us able to decide that today these dams are no longer serving a useful purpose, that they’re causing more harm than good, and to decide to remove them, is just incredible. It gives real hope for rivers in this country. Just last month, dam removal began on the Elwha River.

Of course what remains to be seen is how salmon respond to these dam removals. But, given what these incredible fish can do (swim upstream for hundreds of miles without eating in order to spawn), I think that they’re likely to respond quite positively. For now, I’m basking in river restoration glory — what river will be next?!

And, check out this blog and the video which shows the explosion — incredible how much water there is!

Oh, and you can watch this video, too!

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