Access restored along White Salmon River

A year after a dynamite blast punched a hole in the Condit Dam, the last remnants of the structure are gone and access restrictions on the White Salmon River are now lifted downstream of Northwestern Park. Caution is still advised as the rapids on the lower river are significant.

“This has been a long journey for PacifiCorp and the partners in the settlement agreement that led to the Condit Dam removal,” said Todd Olson, program manager for PacifiCorp. “Work still remains in restoring area vegetation and demobilizing equipment from the work area, but this has been a very successful project. No one from the public has been hurt, and there have been no lost-time injuries among our contractors during more than 64,000 hours worked on the project. We want to especially thank the local community for understanding that access restrictions have been necessary to assure safety, and for abiding by them.”

The last pieces of the dam came out in September. Just last week, PacifiCorp’s Vancouver, Wash.-based contractor, J.R. Merit, completed removal of a large logjam that would have significantly blocked boats drifting the river.

Experienced guides from the local rafting community have inspected the river from the Northwestern Lake Road Bridge to the White Salmon’s confluence with the Columbia River and confirmed that major obstacles are gone, though some rapids in the area are for experts only.

“The restoration of a free-flowing river is an exciting event for the whitewater boating community,” said Thomas O’Keefe, Pacific Northwest stewardship director for American Whitewater. “Paddling the restored reach will be a treasured, yet challenging, experience for many. Downstream from the stretch of river near Northwestern Park, the river enters the White Salmon Narrows, a dramatic canyon guarded by a rapid with powerful hydraulics that only expert paddlers should attempt to navigate.”

Some access restrictions will remain along the river banks, where signs will identify areas recently planted with native vegetation. Also, O’Keefe reminded water enthusiasts to respect the privacy and property of cabin owners in the area. Do not park on cabin access roads or traverse through cabin areas. River access should be only at the public access point at Northwestern Park.

Settlement parties to the Condit Dam removal agreement originally signed in 1999 include: American Rivers, American Whitewater, Columbia Gorge Audubon Society, Columbia Gorge Coalition, Columbia River United, Federation of Fly Fishers, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the White Salmon, The Mountaineers, Rivers Council of Washington, The Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, Washington Trout, Washington Wilderness Coalition, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Yakama Nation, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and PacifiCorp.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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