Washingtonians living near the White Salmon River gathered to celebrate their newly-granted access to the river. Pacific Power's decision last year to breech the Condit Dam means areas flooded for almost one hundred years are now open.
Crews haven't quite finished the slope restoration in spots where the dam once caused the river to pool. Tribal members, kayakers, and others are eagerly awaiting full access, which could come as early as next month. Once those remaining areas are open, it'll be possible to raft or kayak all along the White Salmon, into the Columbia. But already, boaters have reported seeing salmon or steelhead in parts of the river where they haven't been spotted for years.
Friends of the White Salmon, Yakama Fisheries, and other partners organized a homecoming celebration Saturday to mark the restoration of free-flowing river water. Outfitters offered discounted rates to dozens of people who live near the White Salmon but who have never rafted. Members of the Yakama Nation fished this region or thousands of years. Tribal members hosted a salmon bake.
Some tribal members still have land allotments in the area, and many others come back to fish.