A B.C. outdoors group is calling for the removal of an unused dam in Washington to allow salmon to return to the Similkameen River.
Mark Angelo, river chair for the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C., said the Enloe Dam — north of Oroville, Washington — had not produced hydro power since 1954 and did not provide irrigation or flood control. He said the concrete dam was built in 1920 without fish ladders that ended the run of migrating salmon.
The Similkameen River snakes its way from Manning Park through Princeton, Hedley and Keremeos before crossing the border 20 km west of Osoyoos.
Angelo said removing the dam (which was being investigated by the State of Washington) would restore 500 km of prime upriver salmon habitat in the Similkameen and its tributaries.
“The removal of the old, non-operating Enloe Dam near the Canadian-U.S. border would have huge environmental benefits for both B.C. and the state of Washington,” Angelo said.
“Given the pressures confronting salmon and the deteriorating state of many runs throughout the Pacific Northwest, removing this dam creates a significant opportunity to help reverse that trend. Few other single actions could generate this much benefit for salmon.”
He said the removal of the Enloe Dam was a major untapped opportunity for improving salmon habitat in B.C.’s southern interior.
The Outdoor Recreational Council of B.C. is comprised of off-road vehicle, backcountry horseback riding, marine, mountain bike, fishing and wildlife groups and is lobbying the provincial government to speak formally with the State of Washington and U.S. federal government about removing the dam.
In a prepared statement, the council said “the removal of this damaging structure. creates an excellent opportunity for both countries, including newly elected governments in B.C. and the U.S., to work together toward improving the state of rivers and salmon in both B.C. and Washington.”
Democrat Governor of Washington Jay Inslee was re-elected this month for his third term, the B.C. NDP took a four-year hold of politics provincially last month, while Democrat Joe Biden looks set to become the next president of the U.S. by January.
The council said Chinook salmon still swam upstream and jumped at the dam.
Some large dams have been removed in Washington and several in B.C., including seven on Britannia Creek and the Coursier Dam near Revelstoke.