(The Enterprise) If you remove it, they will come. That was the expectation among fish scientists as they contemplated the removal of the Condit Hydroelectric Project from the lower White Salmon River prior to the fall of 2011.
The project and its appurtenances, including the massive concrete Northwestern Dam, were completely demolished in 2012, returning the river to free flowing status for the first time since the early 1900s.
PacifiCorp, owner of the Condit project, opted for dam removal over installation of expensive fish ladders that would have restored fish passage on the White Salmon much earlier than 2011-12, yet preserved hydropower generating capacity and Northwestern Lake for recreation.
Today, in the aftermath of project removal, the White Salmon River is teeming with new life — a fact that is being confirmed by an assortment of fish recolonization studies being done under the auspices of federal, state, and tribal fish researchers.
Once such study is being carried out by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists based out of the Little White Salmon River National Fish Hatchery in the Columbia River Gorge.
This study is the first effort to look at juvenile fish production in the White Salmon River since the dam was removed.” -Dr. Pat Connolly, Research Fisheries Biologist, USGS Western Fisheries Research Center