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Condit Dam demolition is over
River restrictions lifted
September 18, 2012By BEN MITCHELL The Enterprise It’s taken years to get to this point, but Condit Dam is finally, officially, gone. Tom Gauntt, a spokesperson for PacifiCorp, the utility company that owned the dam, dryly remarked that demolition work was completed on Saturday “with hours to spare.” Condit Dam was originally supposed to be out by Aug. 31, but demolition crews fell behind schedule, the pace slowing as workers neared the bottom of the 100-year-old structure. PacifiCorp applied for and received an extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with a new deadline set for Sept. 15. The powerhouse, located just downstream from what was once the site of Condit Dam, is one of the hydroelectric project’s few structures that remain. Gauntt said there are also segments of wooden trestles that are still standing for the time being. The structures were once used to carry Condit’s famous 5,100-foot-long wooden penstocks over ravines down to the powerhouse, but unlike the powerhouse, the trestles will not remain. Gauntt expected they will be demolished and carted away by the end of the week. Crews also spent time this month clearing a logjam that had partially dammed “The Narrows” area of the White Salmon River, which is located roughly two miles upstream from its mouth. “The concrete is out of the river and they’ve substantially removed the logjam,” Gauntt said Monday afternoon. “Not every log has been removed, but it’s still passable.” Although the dam removal is over, there is still work to be done. In addition to the dismantling of the trestles, PacifiCorp will be seeding the land surrounding the former reservoir with native trees, grasses and other plants to help with erosion and to improve aesthetics. This area was transformed into a muddy ravine following the dam’s breach in late October of last year. Gauntt also mentioned that PacifiCorp is in the process of evaluating the safety of the lower White Salmon River, with the help of local rafting companies. As of press time, the river was still not open to the public. “Restrictions haven’t been lifted yet,” he explained. “[PacifiCorp] wants to make sure nothing is going to tumble into the river.” Gauntt did not have an exact date, but expected that restrictions would “most likely” be lifted some time this week.