The 7th annual White Salmon RiverFest and Symposium brought a unique crowd of river lovers to Wet Planet Whitewater, all of whom were unfazed by the windy and cool weather.
On October 26, 2011 the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River was breached and a select few were invited to visit the site and witness first-hand the magnificence of this historic event.
After 8 months of de-constructing the dam, Wet Planet teamed up with Pacificorp, making it possible to visit the dam site and see the current state of dam removal. This ‘once in a lifetime’ invitation was a part of the this year’s Riverfest ~ an event that celebrates the White Salmon River and seeks to educate the community on important events on the river.
Rafting with Your Community
Over 50 people took advantage of the Condit Dam Tour and stayed afterwards to enjoy some thrilling whitewater rafting on the White Salmon River Community Raft Trip. This is the 3rd year that Wet Planet has reached out to the community and offered a “community appreciation” raft float in conjunction with the festival & symposium.
“Community is a big part of Wet Planet,” states one of the event coordinators, Heather Herbeck. “This is a way to show our appreciation for our community and also allow local residents to experience the White Salmon River over and over again . . . if not, for their first time ever!”
Racing Down the River
In addition to the 10+ rafts on the river for the community float, the White Salmon River saw even more exciting traffic. A whitewater rafting and kayaking event was set up to race the entire 5-mile stretch of the Middle White Salmon. We wanted to give an opportunity to private boaters to show their love for the river. Each year the Riverfest event provides different ‘on-water’ entertainment. Last year was ‘hucking’ BZ Falls (a 15 foot waterfall) at a river level of 4 feet (high water). This year was a full-out sprint down the Middle White Salmon River at over 4 ½ feet.
Corey Williams 27:13
Luke Maddux 27:14
Andy Morrissey 27:27
Note: The top 3 racers were all Columbia River Gorge locals.
Oregon Rafting Team #1 28:12
Oregon Rafting Team #2 30:00
Despite the smiles, laughs and chitter chatter from the on-water afternoon adventures, kayakers and rafters were eager to get into dry clothes. The afternoon continued with presentations and information shared about the current state of the White Salmon River and its future.
The Riverfest’s roots lie within the Symposium portion of the event, when the river guides and community members can learn more about the watershed.
Speakers focused on the return of salmon to the White Salmon River with the removal of Condit Dam. With their return, the river will slowly change back to it’s historic character.
Rod Engle from US Fish and Wildlife spoke about his research on salmon redds (nests) above and below the dam site. Jeanette Burkhardt of Yakima Nations Fisheries told of the Native American’s history in the valley and throughout the Columbia River Gorge. She also indicated their excitement for the return of the fish that has sustained their people for tens of thousands of years. Finally, Pat Arnold of Friends of the White Salmon River spoke about getting involved in your own watershed and speaking up for the health of the rivers we enjoy.
The evening brought everyone together for food and entertainment, as well as one of the largest raffle drawings the Riverfest has seen yet! Gift certificates, paddling gear, t-shirts, shoes, a Jackson kayak and many more items were donated to this event. We could not have made the event happen without the great support from our industry and local businesses. Thank you.
To conclude the event, the Shed Shakers provided some foot stompin’ music that lured many off of the chairs and onto the dance floor.
The river tends to bring many people together and create an environment of appreciation and celebration for each other and nature. This event was no exception. A big thank you to everyone who supported the event ~ volunteers, area businesses, Wet Planet staff and all who attended. All proceeds will go to American Whitewater and Friends of the White Salmon ~ without these two organizations, the White Salmon River wouldn’t be flowing free.
Wet Planet is proud to host this event year after year . . . we’re already planning for 2013!