PacifiCorp, operator of the White Salmon’s Condit Dam, is giving back to the paddling community.
As a part of a renewed license for the Merwin Dam hydropower project, the energy giant has agreed to improve take-put access along the reservoir for the popular Canyon Creek run.
Paddlers must finish their run down Canyon Creek, a stretch of technical whitewater and waterfalls, with a 1.5 mile flatwater paddle. Underneath the vast lake, the Lewis River used to flow, carrying those that floated upon it with the natural loss of gradient. Modern whitewater kayaks are not designed to paddle efficiently on such broad stretches of flat water, making the run more difficult for the recreational boating community.
American Whitewater, a national river conservation non-profit, began working with PacifiCorp on this project in 2003. As a voice for the recreational paddling community, AW asked PacifiCorp to improve the steep, muddy slope for easier access. Noting the inconvenience of the flatwater paddle, AW reassured PacifiCorp this improvement would cost little in maintanence and upkeep, while providing a significantly easier and safer experience for paddlers.
This year, PacifiCorp will begin construction at the take-out access.
While hydropower dams prevent the natural flow of rivers, they do provide other benefits, such as river flow data and upkeep of popular recreation sites. PacifiCorp maintains river gauge information and a day-use site on the Rogue River, an oregon whitewater rafting gem. Releasing water from the dam allows daily launches of multi-day white water rafting trips looking to descend the Wild and Scenic Rogue River.
Additionally, PacifiCorp owns Northwestern Lake Park, a day use area that serves as the public take-out point for the Lower White Salmon River. The concrete ramp and floating dock have also provided easier access for fishermen and recreational boaters to enjoy the placid waters of the lake.
Hydropower, just as with any form of energy generation, brings good and bad to a river valley. PacifiCorp is helping to improve the natural areas where their projects have impacted the landscape greatly.
However, most of us will still be excited to see Condit Dam and Northwestern lake go this fall.
For more information regarding the Canyon Creek take-out read AW’s history of involvement.
Susan Hollingsworth, writer and instructor, has a hard time visualizing where all the logs when the massive log jam in Canyon Creek flushed several weeks ago. Nevertheless, she is excited to have a new run closer to her home in Portland, OR.