PacifiCorp says use restrictions will remain on White Salmon River

Post Condit Dam removal, access is limited for two more weeks

The Sept. 19 edition of The White Salmon Enterprise reported that PacifiCorp would likely be lifting restrictions on the White Salmon River in a matter of days, following the recent completion of Condit Dam’s demolition.

PacifiCorp has since revised its forecast and Tom Gauntt, a spokesperson for the utility company, said it’s likely the section of river downstream from Northwestern Lake Park will remain closed to the public for another few weeks.

The delay is caused by hazards both above and below the White Salmon River. For one, work on removing a trestle that once carried Condit’s woodstave pipelines over a ravine has yet to be completed.

Originally, PacifiCorp didn’t anticipate the work would be a danger to potential boaters, but the company has since changed its tune.

“It all boils down to safety,” explained Gauntt. “As (contractors) started to remove the trestle, the folks on the ground saw there was more hazard than initially thought. Rather than just going forward, they stopped work to bring in geotechnical consultants to make sure they were taking the best, most safe course possible.”

Contractors were worried that pieces of the trestle, which lies on the east bank of the White Salmon River, could tumble into the water and possibly injure potential boaters.

That’s not the only hazard boaters would face. A logjam that has bottlenecked a section of river appropriately referred to as “The Narrows” remains and has been deemed unsafe. Originally, the stretch was deemed navigable after 25 “logs of significance” were removed, but PacifiCorp also revised that assessment upon further consultation with contractors and local raft guides.

“Falling out of your boat would be very bad news in the midst of all that debris,” said Gauntt, “and unless we were going to have some sort of Class V ID check upriver, it was not prudent to lift restrictions at that time — despite previous plans to.”

While demolition work continues, removal of the logjam and other woody debris has been halted due to the current fall chinook salmon run. Work is expected to reconvene in early October once state and federal fishery agencies give the all-clear signal.

In addition to the river, the portion of Powerhouse Road near the demolition site will also remain closed. Gauntt said work demolishing the dam’s surge tank, placement of concrete debris, slope restoration and planting mandates that Powerhouse Road be closed until the end of 2012.

As for when the lower White Salmon River will be open, Gauntt did not have an exact date, but expected it would happen in a few weeks.

“Mid-October is a good guess,” he said, “but so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, we will do what has to be done and then do a thorough evaluation, consult with contractors and guides and then and only then, lift restrictions.”

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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