The Lower White Salmon River was designated November 17, 1986 from its confluence with Gilmer Creek, near the town of BZ Corner, to its confluence with Buck Creek as scenic (7.7 miles). Numerous seeps and springs found along the canyon walls provide a consistently cold and sustained flow of water year around. The river drops 50 feet per mile. The five outstandingly remarkable values are whitewater boating (one of the few rivers in the region that has Class III rapids located in a natural setting runnable nearly year-round), the White Salmon River Gorge (the longest vertical wall gorge in the region noteworthy due to its natural character, bedrock geology, caves and numerous falls and springs), hydrology (sustained flows and waterfalls), resident fish (one of the three best resident rainbow trout fisheries in the region) and a Native American Indian longhouse site and cemetery.
Peak flows in the mainstem White Salmon River are generated by snowmelt runoff and occur in the spring, increasing from an average daily flow around 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the fall to flows around 1,550 cfs during the spring. The flow pattern on the White Salmon River mainstem is relatively constant due to its glacial origin, large water recharge potential,and storage capacity. Recharged water is released mostly in the middle portion of the mainstem canyon between Trout Lake Valley and Husum. Subterranean lava tubes conduct water from Indian Heaven in Gifford Pinchot National Forest to the White Salmon River between Trout Lake and BZ Corner. The largest stream flows typically occur in response to rain-on-snow events, when heavy rains combine with high air temperatures and high winds to cause widespread snowmelt. Low flows are maintained on the mainstem by late season snowmelt and areas of water retention or recharge.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act expressly requires the Forest Service to regulate the designated lands by protecting the outstanding remarkable values, acquiring land, monitoring resources and impact. The Act also requires that the managing agencies take a strong, pro-active interest in working with local governments (and landowners) to protect the river’s outstanding values and free-flowing character. To its credit, the Forest Service has taken a firm stance on Klickitat County’s proposed rezone and its potential impacts on the White Salmon’s outstanding values, water quality and water quantity.
Stakeholders need to work together toward the common goal of protecting the White Salmon’s outstanding values. Many parts of the White Salmon River Management Plan have not been implemented, as required by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Implementation of the Management Plan is absolutely key to protection of the White Salmon. We are particularly concerned about the lack of an active acquisition program including pro-active outreach and education to private landowners along the river and a current prioritization of which parcels are most important to adequately protect the White Salmon’s outstanding values, and the lack of development of a monitoring program for land use changes, water quality and other parameters.
UPDATE: The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act specifically requires a management plan that protects the river be developed and implemented. We have requested the following actions:
- Written evaluation of progress in implementing the Lower White Salmon Management Plan (Management Plan)
- Review and update list of priority parcels
- Develop and implement an inventory and monitoring plan, as specified in the Lower White Salmon Management Plan
- Reopen negotiations with the SDS Lumber Company
- Implement an Active River Program