No. 11, September 20, 1999

River Revival Bulletin

Produced by: River Revival, International Rivers
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703 USA

Editors: Elizabeth Brink & Owen Lammers


  • Saving US rivers threatens Canadian rivers and native cultures

  • California dams for sale

  • Property owners assume stewardship of watershed

  • Even conservationists disagree about Condit Dam removal

  • Corps of Engineers Snake River report delayed

  • Trout habitat renewal in Idaho

  • Republicans & EDF agree on fish protection plan

  • Wisconsin faces another restoration opportunity

  • Lawsuit filed to prevent extinction of Atlantic salmon

  • Pennsylvania cuts red tape to facilitate restoration


Saving US rivers threatens Canadian rivers and native cultures

Deregulation of US energy markets, combined with strong US public opposition to further development of its rivers, has caused Canadian hydroelectric suppliers to begin planning for new dams to serve US markets. Premier Gary Filmon recently stated that he will make sure Manitoba Hydro doubles its export sales over the next decade, despite the extensive environmental and social consequences. "Hydroelectric development in Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada has already devastated the culture of some native Cree communities, and this situation will only worsen if the US public buys more of this dirty power," said Ann Stewart who has been helping fight US imports of Canadian hydro for the past ten years. Stewart is working to encourage environmental groups, especially river groups, in the US to help reverse this trend by aggressively advocating for energy conservation, and opposing all new or renewed contracts with Canadian hydro companies.

For more information, contact Ann Stewart at

  • "Filmon vows jolts for Hydro," Winnipeg Sun, September 5, 1999.


**Various hydroelectric dams, CA**

California dams for sale

On September 5, the holder of the nation's largest portfolio of hydro dams, Pacific, Gas and Electric Co, agreed to auction off its California holdings of some 170 dams totaling 3,900 MW of installed capacity. PG&E has spent the past nine months campaigning to transfer these plants to its wholly owned private subsidiary, US Generating, but this was recently voted down by the California Senate. PG&E hopes to fetch $3.3 billion for the dams. Some environmentalists believe this is an excellent opportunity for progressive interests to purchase some or all of these dams, and re-operate some and decommission others to help restore the many miles of California rivers and fish habitat that have been destroyed.

For more information, contact Guy Philips and the Living Rivers Institute at

  • "A dam opportunity," Los Angeles Times, 28 August, 1999.
  • Howe, Kenneth & Lucas, Greg, "PG&E dam plan founders: Legislators don't buy hydroelectric sale," San Francisco Chronicle, 9 September, 1999.
  • Peyton, Carrie, "PG&E's transfer of system in logjam: Utility, legislators far apart on terms," Sacramento Bee, 7 July, 1999.
  • "PG&E to Sell Hydro Plants," San Francisco Examiner, 14 September, 1999.
  • Walters, Dan, "PG&E makes big power play," Sacramento Bee, 20 August 1999.


**Fanno Creek Watershed, OR**

Property owners assume stewardship of watershed

In the Oregon neighborhood of Bridlemile, in the northern part of the Fanno Creek Watershed, residents have launched a group called "Bridlemile Stream Stewards." They educate, weed and undertake restoration projects to halt further erosion and pollution of the streams and creeks -- most of which border private property. Their hope is that each homeowner will become a steward of the natural space on the stream near them. Even if some residents may not be concerned about Fanno Creek water quality, biological diversity and breeding grounds for cutthroat trout, they may be concerned about the worst-case effects of unchecked erosion. Their garages or other buildings can slide toward the stream bed --which has happened in the neighborhood.

The city's stewardship program is in its fifth year, said Lynn Vanderkamp, coordinator. It is small, with about $35,000 a year available for neighborhood grants, many of which are for restoration projects. While the program is still being evaluated, Vanderkamp said, those involved with it at the city level think that for every dollar given, the result is worth $3. The quality of the water system is "under attack by development all the way" to the Tualatin River, resident Greg Schifsky asserts. "All we're trying to do is teach Bridlemile neighbors to do a better job."

  • Christ, Janet, "Fanno's Bridlemile residents help heal creek, watershed: The effort, begun last year, explains the value of a healthy system and aids property owners' efforts," The Oregonian, 27 August, 1999. Read the text at:

**Condit Dam, White Salmon River, WA**

Even conservationists disagree about Condit Dam removal

If PacifiCorp reaches a deal with conservation groups, tribes and federal regulators, to tear down Condit dam, the White Salmon River would once again flow free, opening at least 12 miles of habitat to salmon and steelhead trout blocked by the 125-foot-high dam. It's a scenario many conservationists would like to see repeated throughout the Northwest as part of their push to restore dwindling salmon runs. But for lakeside cabin owners, boaters and anglers, taking out Condit Dam would destroy something that has been part of the landscape for 86 years.

While this is a familiar debate in the Northwest, this time there's a twist: some conservationists think Condit Dam should stay. Swallows flit across the calm water. Springs on cliffs along the lake's east side create shimmering waterfalls. Western pond turtles and other rare animals live in marshes along the shore of the lake, which Richard Larson, a U.S. Forest Service biologist, calls "ecologically special."

"Our position is, the most cost-effective, biologically sound way to approach restoration of that river is to move forward with dam removal," said Shawn Cantrell, Northwest regional director of Friends of the Earth in Seattle. Conservation group leaders and PacifiCorp officials declined to discuss negotiations about Condit Dam.

For more information contact Shawn Cantrell of Friends of the Earth at

  • Brinckman, Jonathan, "Dam removal, with a twist: PacifiCorp's plan to dismantle Condit Dam fails to generate agreement among conservationists, residents of the area," The Oregonian, 12 August, 1999.

**Lower Snake River dams, WA**

Corps of Engineers Snake River report delayed

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced it will delay by two months the much-anticipated release of a draft study on alternatives for improving salmon survival, including the possible breaching of four lower Snake River dams. The draft environmental impact statement and feasibility report that had been due in October will be released sometime in December to give the agency more time to consider data gathered in the $20 million, five-year study, study manager Greg Graham said. The draft study will include the corps' preferred alternative for aiding salmon survival, said Dutch Meier, spokesman for the corps' regional Walla Walla office.

A three-month public review and comment period will follow the draft study's anticipated release in December. The corps also expects to hold workshops and public hearings during that period, with the final report expected to be presented sometime next year to Congress, which would have to approve any breaching of dams.

For more information on the Lower Snake River dam removal campaign, visit

**Mill pond dam, Colburn Creek, ID**

Trout habitat renewal in Idaho

An industrial site isn't exactly the place you'd expect to find a trout stream. But for 70 years, the Colburn sawmill and Colburn Creek co-existed. Tiny trout lived in the creek's pools under the shadow of heavy equipment operation. But the dam that created the site's mill pond kept bigger trout from migrating up Colburn Creek to spawn. On September 17, construction crews tore out the last remaining piece of the 50-year-old dam, allowing the creek to flow freely again.

The dam removal, recommended by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, is part of owner Crown Pacific's effort to spruce up the 90-acre industrial site north of Sandpoint, which is for sale. The Portland-based company was the last in a long line of operators of the Colburn sawmill, which closed in January.

"Anytime you can open up good habitat that's been closed off for 50 years, it has a tremendous impact," said Jim Frederick, regional fisheries biologist for the Department of Fish and Game. "This is an example of something that can be done without a lot of cost and effort to restore habitat." Fish biologists say the removal of the dam will have tremendous wildlife benefits.

For more information, e-mail Bob Dunnagan, Chairman of Trout Unlimited's Idaho Council at


**Colorado & San Juan River Basins**

Republicans & EDF agree on fish protection plan

A compromise plan to pay for protecting four endangered fish species in the Colorado and San Juan river basins has been introduced in Congress with support from environmental groups and some Republican critics of the Endangered Species Act.

Proponents say helping save the fish now could head off future water-use restrictions in a broad swath of the increasingly thirsty West. "The idea is it'll be less costly in the long run," said Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., who introduced the Senate version of the plan Friday.

The proposal would set aside $46 million in federal money for projects to help the razorback sucker, Colorado pike minnow, bony-tailed chub and humpbacked chub. The money would go to building fish ladders and removing other barriers at smaller irrigation dams along the rivers and their tributaries, as well as building and upgrading fish hatcheries to raise the endangered fish and buying bottomland to restore fish habitat.

The Colorado River fish plan also has the support of some environmental groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund. "We don't agree on a lot of things, but this looks to the water users to be a good deal and looks to the environmental community to be a reasonable and serious effort," said Dan Luecke of the fund.


**Ward Paper Mill Dam, Prairie River, WI**

Wisconsin faces another restoration opportunity

After many legal twists and turns, the gates at the Ward Dam in Merrill were fully opened on September 3rd. Today the river is seeking its natural river course again for the first time in nearly one hundred years. The Ward Dam is the last of four dams on the Prairie River. Its removal will greatly benefit warm, cool and cold water fisheries. Dam removal will also restore about 40 acres of wetland, which is prime wildlife habitat and will benefit a wide variety of wildlife species.

DNR officials have indicated that this drawdown has exposed more than 80 percent of the 113-acre impoundment and will allow revegetation of the area before the dam is physically removed. As the dam structure is removed, the river would be restored to its original character - a sight unseen for over 90 years. The River Alliance hopes that local citizens and officials will now become involved in developing a plan for restoring the "new land" and creating an area that can provide enjoyment for all of the community. This visioning process is an important component to the restoration of a river. The River Alliance has extended a standing invitation to assist in that process.

For more information visit the River Alliance of Wisconsin Web page at, or contact Stephanie Lindloff, Small Dams Program Coordinator at 608.257.2424, or by e-mail at the following address,


Lawsuit filed to prevent extinction of Atlantic salmon

The Atlantic Salmon Federation and Trout Unlimited, filed a lawsuit against the federal government in US District Court in Washington seeking to have the fish put on the endangered species list. Such a listing would trigger a series of measures aimed at protecting the fish. Over the past two centuries, dams, industrial pollution and overfishing have combined to eliminate salmon from most New England rivers, leaving just a few remnant populations in Maine.

"The crisis has reached emergency levels," said Charles Gauvin, head of Trout Unlimited. "Last year, approximately 100 wild salmon returned to the seven rivers that are currently the focus of Maine's restoration effort." Responding to the sharp decline in the salmon population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service more than eight years ago declared the fish a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. But rather than list the fish, the government accepted a less-rigorous conservation plan offered by the state of Maine. "Despite increased conservation efforts by the state of Maine, the number of wild salmon returning to their home rivers has dropped another 80 percent this decade," said Bill Taylor, head of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

For more information contact Bill Taylor of the Atlantic Salmon Federation at

  • "US conservationists sue to save Atlantic salmon," Reuters News Service, 13 August, 1999.

**Various dams, Susquehanna River Basin, PA**

Pennsylvania cuts red tape to facilitate restoration

In an astounding display of bureaucratic streamlining, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has instituted a process allowing permits for dam removal to be waived. Thanks in part to this procedural efficiency, as well as the work of individuals such as Scott Carney of the PA Fish and Boat Commission, 31 small dams have been removed since 1990, and 32 more are slated for removal over the next 2 years.

Carney reports that the average cost of removal has been low, at approximately $40,000 per project. Conservationists hope to extend restoration and dam removal efforts from the Susquehanna River Basin to the Ohio and Delaware River Basins, but programs targeting these areas are still in need of funding.

For more information, contact Scott Carney of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission at 814.355.4837, or e-mail him at