Restoring vital Tribal fishery
About the Project
Enloe Dam, built between 1919 and 1923, is a 54-foot-high concrete wall spanning the Similkameen River, four miles from Oroville, Washington. The dam was built to provide power to a downstream powerplant, but hydropower operations ceased in 1958.
For more than 60 years, the dam’s two-mile-long reservoir has been filling with silt, its depth reduced to nine feet. The dam also blocks 348 miles of high-quality, cold-water fish habitat in the Similkameen Basin, which impedes fishing access as guaranteed by treaty rights for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and Upper and Lower Similkameen Band of Indians. Though they have reintroduced salmon in other parts of the river system, removing Enloe Dam unlocks massive potential for ESA-threatened salmon, steelhead, and lamprey, supporting up to 98,000 spawning steelhead and 55,000 Chinook salmon according to river surveys. Dam removal also offers a valuable cold-water refugia under extreme climate change conditions.
The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are pursuing a removal strategy for the defunct dam. Their hope is to reintroduce fish populations that once sustained their people. The Tribe and USGS are collaborating on sediment assessments, which will inform a conceptual design and removal cost estimate in 2021.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
- Open 348 miles of habitat for ESA-threatened upper Columbia steelhead, spring and summer/fall upper Columbia Chinook, and Okanogan River sockeye
- Reestablish sediment transport to nourish downstream spawning beds
- Support Tribal treaty rights for Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and Upper and Lower Similkameen Band of Indians
- Invigorate a recreation-based economy for fishing, cycling, and whitewater and flatwater boating in an economically depressed region
- Resolve public health and safety issues arising from an aging dam retaining contaminated sediments
Okanogan Public Utilities District
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
Lower Similkameen Band of Indians
Upper Similkameen Band of Indians
Methow Valley Citizens Council
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration