I. INTRODUCTION II. THE ELWHA RIVER: REMOVAL OF THE ELWHA AND GLINES CANYON DAMS A. Damming the Elwha River. 1. Construction of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams 2. The Decline of the Elwha River Ecosystem B. FERC Relicensing, Political Compromise, and Dam Removal Efforts 1. Relicensing the Dams 2. Political Compromise and Funding for Removal 3. The Removal C. Restoring the Elwha River III. THE WHITE SALMON RIVER: REMOVING THE CONDIT DAM A. Condit Dam Construction B. The Federal Power Act, Relicensing, and Dam Removal Efforts 1. The Federal Power Act and FERC Relicensing 2. The 1999 Agreement, Federal and State Regulatory Approval, and License Forfeiture 3. The Dam Removal Process C. Restoring the White Salmon River IV. THE SANDY RIVER BASIN: DECOMMISSIONING THE BULL RUN HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT A. The Little Sandy and Marmot Dams B. The Settlement Agreement to Remove the Dams 1. The Settlement Agreement and FERC License Surrender 2. The Removal Procedures C. Restoring the Sandy River Basin V. THE ROGUE RIVER: RESTORING THE WILD AND SCENIC RIVER A. Fragmenting the River: Dams Throughout the Rogue Basin 1. Savage Rapids Dam 2. Gold Hill Dam 3. Gold Ray Dam 4. Elk Creek Dam B. Restoring the Rogue River VI. THE KLAMATH RIVER BASIN: LOOKING AHEAD TO FUTURE DAM REMOVALS A. Setting the Stage for the Klamath Controversy 1. Dam Building for Power 2. Irrigating the Upper Klamth Basin 3. Tribal Water Rights and the Disappearing Salmon B. Dam Removal and the Klamath Basin Agreements 1. The Relicensing Process 2. The Agreements C. Factors Affecting Dam Removal: Lessons for the Klamath VII. CONCLUSION
The Pacific Northwest stands at the forefront of a new era in dam removal and river restoration. For over twenty years, the government has studied, and river advocates have championed, a policy of breaching dams that block salmon passage to spawning streams in Washington, Oregon, and California. (1) Recently removed dams and several scheduled removals indicate that long-fought efforts to remove certain dams and restore their rivers are bearing fruit. (2)
For most of the twentieth century, dam construction dominated the rivers of the Pacific Northwest. (3) Throughout the region's major river basins, dams produced hydropower, irrigation, flood control, and opportunities for recreation. (4) Yet the benefits of the dams came at high environmental costs. (5) Salmon and other anadromous fish that return from the ocean to spawn in freshwater streams encounter dams that often prevent their passage. (6) The high mortality rates caused by dams led to the listing of a number of salmon species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). (7) Inadequate fish ladders, changed hydraulic conditions, and the difficulties of downstream fish passage around the dams led many to claim that saving and replenishing salmon resources depended on removing barriers to free-flowing rivers and restoring the rivers' natural hydrology. (8)
Serious public attention turned to the prospect of removing dams in the 1990s. (9) In 1992, Congress authorized the federal purchase of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams in Washington State for $29.5 million. (10) The Elwha Act directed the Department of the Interior to study and implement complete restoration of the Elwha River ecosystem, including the removal of the two dams (11) Two years later, in 1994, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a policy statement interpreting section 3 of the Electric Consumers Protection Act (12)--which requires FERC to give equal consideration to environmental and economic factors when licensing dams (13)--concluding that the agency could order removal of dams at the dam owner's expense. (14) Inherent in FERC's dam removal policy was the recognition that in some cases the balance of environmental and economic considerations tipped in favor of removing dams. (15) FERC used this power for the first time in 1997 when it ordered the removal of the Edwards Dam in Maine. (16) Consequently, in 1999, for the first time in 160 years, the Kennebec River flowed unimpeded to the ocean, allowing the free passage of fish from the Atlantic to spawn upstream in headwaters tributaries. (17)
The success of the Edwards Dam removal led to increased interest in dam removal and an accelerating number of proposals for fiver restoration in the Pacific Northwest. (18) But removing dams and restoring rivers is quite complex. Aside from the physical practicalities of engineering safe dam breaches (19) and restoring ecosystems, (20) legal and political factors affect the speed and success of removal efforts. Some dam removal projects have proceeded relatively quickly from proposal to completion. (21) Other projects experience conflict, political wrangling, and serious delay. (22) This paper examines the factors that affect the outcome of dam removal proposals, including the size of the removal, the FERC relicensing process, local opposition, political support, and funding.
We examine several dam removals and proposed removals in the Pacific Northwest in order to analyze the factors that contribute to successful and speedy dam removal. Part II of this Article begins by investigating the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams on the Elwha River near Olympic National Park in western Washington. The federal government purchased both dams in 2000 and began the removal process in the fall of 2011. (23) The government aims to restore the natural ecosystem near the national park over the next thirty years. (24)
Part III addresses the removal of the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in southern Washington. The Condit removal Was a result of a 1999 settlement between the Yakama Nation and other tribes, the dam's owner-operator PacifiCorp, federal agencies, and environmental groups, regarding salmon access to traditional fishing areas upstream. PacifiCorp faced the choice of implementing expensive modifications to allow fish passage at the Condit or agreeing to pay for a complete removal. In October 2011, a dozen years after the settlement, PacifiCorp removed the dam and in 2012 began remediation activities, including the removal of the dam remnants. (25)
Part IV turns to the removals of the Marmot and Sandy Dams near Mt. Hood outside of Portland, Oregon. These two small-scale hydroelectric dams--owned and operated by Portland General Electric (PGE)--required extensive repairs and upgrades in order to modernize fish passage facilities and comply with fish passage prescriptions under the Federal Power Act (FPA). (26) PGE opted for removal rather than paying for the expensive repairs, and removed the dams without much fanfare in 2007 and 2008, respectively. (27)
Part V examines the Rogue River watershed in southern Oregon. The Rogue Basin once featured eight major dams that provided irrigation water and flood control. But between 2008 and 2010, local governments removed three of the dams--the Gold Hill, Savage Rapids, and Gold Ray Dams--and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notched a fourth--the Elk Creek Dam. At the time of removal, none of the dams provided hydroelectric power, and the extensive maintenance costs and new irrigation options contributed to the various decisions to remove the aging dams and not complete the Elk Creek Dam. (28)
Part VI proceeds to consider proposals for dam removal in the Klamath River Basin in southern Oregon and northern California. The Klamath Basin now has seven major dams, all owned by PacifiCorp, all but one of which provide significant sources of hydroelectric power. (29) In 2010, two major settlements in the Klamath Basin established a goal of removing four of these dams on the mainstem of the Klamath River by 2020. (30) The Klamath restoration would be the largest dam removal project in history, but resolving the contentious issues of funding for removal and allocating water rights remain significant hurdles before beginning the restoration.
The Article concludes by assessing the prospects for future dam removals and investigating how lessons from the Pacific Northwest can be applied to other regions. (31) The experiences of dam removal in the Pacific Northwest--including restoration projects as monumental as the dams they will replace--provide useful examples for other regions struggling to break down the complex legal; political, and concrete barriers to restoring free-flowing rivers.
II. THE ELWHA RIVER: REMOVAL OF THE ELWHA AND GLINES CANYON DAMS
The Elwha River's headwaters are in the Bailey Range of the Olympic Mountains in western Washington. The river flows north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, halfway between the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound. (32) Glaciers that once covered the Olympic Peninsula during the Pleistocene shaped the hydrology of the Elwha watershed, creating a rapid river that descends 4,500 feet in just forty-five miles. (33) Before construction of the dams, the Elwha River supported a highly productive fishery, regarded as one of the most prolific in the Pacific Northwest. (34) The Elwha watershed provided spawning habitat for every species of anadromous fish native to the Pacific Northwest, (35) including massive Elwha River chinook salmon that often weighed more than a hundred pounds. (36) For over 2,700 years, the Elwha River's fisheries had helped sustain the survival and livelihoods of the native inhabitants of the area. (37)
A. Damming the Elwha River
The growth of non-native settlement on the Olympic Peninsula near the end of the nineteenth century led to drastic changes in the human economy of the region as well the Elwha River ecosystem. Since 1914, the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams produced hydroelectric power that facilitated the growth in cities and industries throughout the peninsula. Yet almost immediately after the dams' construction, the river's salmon fishery virtually disappeared, and the ecology of the Elwha River entered a steep and long-term decline.
1. Construction of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams
In 1910, the Olympic Power and Development Company began construction of a hydroelectric dam in the Elwha Gorge, five miles upstream from the river's mouth. (38) Engineers built an eighty-foot concrete gravity dam across the river by anchoring each side of the dam to the canyon walls, suspending the retaining wall down to the riverbed. (39) After the first design failed and flooded downstream communities, the reconstructed Elwha Dam was completed in 1913, standing 105-feet tall and creating a 267-acre reservoir, Lake Aldwell. (40)
The success of lumber mills and the growing economy of the peninsula …