Photos and Video from Condit Breach Day

Well folks, October 26th, 2011 is certainly a day that will go down in history. After the Blaster in Charge yelled “fire in the hole!” and ignited the charges, the White Salmon was explosively set free for the first time in 100 years.  The lake took less than 2 hours to drain, carrying an incredible amount of sediment and debris downstream to the Columbia.  Now, a more gradual process begins–the erosion of millions of cubic yards of trapped silt, the return of threatened salmon and ultimately the complete removal of Condit Dam.

Enjoy these photos and video from breach day and stay tuned for more updates as the sediment erodes and the White Salmon re-carves its course. And check out this National Geographic News story, where the breach video first appeared.

Big thanks to American Whitewater, American Rivers, Pro Photo Supply and Clif Bar for making this coverage possible!


15 thoughts on “Photos and Video from Condit Breach Day

  1. Excellent work again, Andy. Great pictures.

    Are you able to caption the pics – “1 mile upstream from dam”, “far end of the vanished lake” “500 feet upstream of dam” (for 3 examples) – and similar for downstream?

    Regarding the silt removal, it MUST be nutrient rich, one would think. Is it? Will local gardeners be adding it to their plots when it becomes available? Technically, who owns it, the Parks Service, the dam operators… who? Maybe you could add this to your coverage in the springtime.

    Could I also suggest a link on your pages so that people could donate to your documentation project? Even many small donations could add up. (I’m thinking, helicopter flyover with video rolling.)


  2. Andy, these are amazing photos – they are fascinating to look at – I’m so appreciative that you have documented this so well!

  3. Thanks for your efforts in documenting this.

    I am looking forward to seeing what the area behind the damn and flow of the river looks like now and throughout the winter.

    What has been the explanation of why the lake drained so much quicker than expected? My guess is that there was much more sediment built up behind the damn than they figured so there was much less water to drain. Hopefully La Nina lives up to its predictions and we have a rainy winter to flush this stuff out as quickly as possible.

    I was disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be any footage of the flow from the breach entering the Colombia. I had expected that the news stations from Portland would have helicopters in the air filming it.


  4. This is such incredible footage of an incredible event. For everyone who couldn’t be there, and those who were, thank you for capturing this astonishing moment. The river’s power as it surges in freedom is overwhelming.

    Endless thanks for all the dedicated work by so many that made this happen!

  5. Andy, you ought to see what it looks like farther up river. We returned last weeeknd and were just awe struck at the sheer magnitude of the amount of land mass that has been carved away. There is now a 60 foot deep canyon just beyond our place. I have been documenting every two weeks. I’d like to share some of my photos with you if you are at all interested in seeing what it looks like at the Mill Creek region. I am thrilled to be witness to the return of the river in it’s true state.

  6. Can you direct me to the EIS/EA that was prepared for this action? I am very interested in this topic, and would love to see how they countered the arguments of those opposed to such action? We need to see more of this and determine how best to approach the next opportunity, learn from this success!

  7. Thank you for documenting this event. While many are praising the work that has been done to remove this barrier to local fish populations, I believe the release was handled in a way that is extremely detrimental to the local environment. It will take many many years for the White Salmon River to restore itself (both upstream and downstream of the Conduit Dam) to its natural state.

    I work for a dam engineering company on the east coast. Out here the word dam does not automatically conjure up images of environmental disaster, endangered fish populations nor ideas of human’s negative impacts on our ecology. That being said, we would have never allowed this dam to be breached in this way if this were our project.

    We would have slowly and carefully removed portions of the top of the Conduit Dam and allowed water to move downstream in a controlled fashion. After a large cut in the dam was completed, and water was allowed to move freely through the partially demolished structure, we would have stabilized the upstream sediment so as to minimize the environmental impacts to the shoreline.

    I look forward to seeing nature take back the land surrounding the river and for the negative impacts of this release to be diminished over the years.

  8. Why is the dam being removed? Peakoil is happening right now and you are destroying the best clean energy source we have! Restoring the river for some spoiled brats to kayak and fish in, holy !@#$ you americans are !@#$%^!!!

  9. I watched this in class just last week and man, was it amazing.
    I will for sure keep an eye on this for years to come as i get my degree… master and PhD… it’ll be worth it.

  10. a quick question.
    whether these “green” is thought also about how energy will be compensated, which could produce this power station?
    Throw in coal present in the atom elekro station?
    it is so “green” that bad rushes.

  11. 20% of the world’s electricity is supplied by hydro-electric power.
    A total of 0.9% of our power is supplied by solar and wind.
    Why waist $$$ fooling around with these “boutique” sources of energy??
    They’re unreliable and must be backed up by nuclear, coal, oil, and hydro anyway; plants that must be kept on line to to be effective.

    Let’s reconstruct these hydro facilities to make them more efficient electrically and environmentally.
    There is no carbon footprint, the land is already there (unsettled and paid for) to create the lakes.
    There is plenty of room for new hi-tech fish ladders in place of some of the gates and they would be
    NEW. A WIN-WIN for everyone……………. and the fish.

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