Green Guide

Dam removal project in Yakima on Naches River gets funding

Posted 6:24 p.m. Wednesday
Updated 6:26 p.m. Wednesday

— A national environmental group has donated $75,000 to help pay for the removal of the Nelson Dam on the Naches River, which has hampered salmon trying to migrate upstream for nearly a century.

The donation will go toward the estimated $12 million price tag for the dam removal project that has been planned for years by Yakima city and county officials and the Yakama Indian Nation.

Located west of Yakima, the dam was first built in the 1920s, and rebuilt in 1985 in order to divert irrigation water into the city, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Wednesday.

At a height of 8 feet, the dam presents a formidable obstacle to fish trying to migrate upstream.

By slowing the natural speed of the river, the dam also traps sediment upstream, creating conditions that have led to flooding.

Removing the dam will help with the flood risk, said David Brown, Yakima's water and irrigation manager.

Removal will allow more than half a million cubic yards of gravel to be carried downstream to create more salmon spawning habitat in an area that's been deprived of natural sediment for decades.

The removal of the dam is scheduled to start next fall if all permits are in place.

Tuesday's grant was provided by Open Rivers Fund, a philanthropic fund dedicated to dam removal and river restoration.

The fund also provided money for the removal of the Matilija Dam in California's Ventura County and the Beeson-Robison diversion dam on Oregon's Rogue River.

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A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the name of a dam that also had been removed using money from the Open Rivers Fund. The story has been corrected with the accurate name of the dam.

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