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Where once a lake lay, a river runs
WHITE SALMON — Three and a half years have passed since Northwestern Lake drained like a bathtub in a single afternoon. Only traces of it remain.
On the sloping banks above the White Salmon River, a faint but distinct line marks the old water level. Unused stairways and docks sit high and dry, partially obscured by vegetation. Boaters have spotted a forgotten rope swing dangling impossibly high over the river below.
Northwestern Lake disappeared in October 2011 when Condit Dam was breached with a blast of dynamite. The dam was removed the following year as the White Salmon River began a remarkable recovery process that continues today.
The transition still generates mixed feelings around this close-knit community. Many cheer the return of migratory fish that now number in the thousands each year. Some cabin owners on the former lake, meanwhile, live in a state of uncertainty as their homes continue to shift and crack on unstable ground.
Condit Dam’s breaching and removal came only after a dozen years of legal wrangling and plenty of opposition. The drawn-out planning process divided people. Some wondered whether it would actually happen at all.
“For people to think through and live through that kind of landscape change is crazy — unprecedented, really,” said Margaret Neuman, executive director of the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group. “It did cause a lot of anxiety, and it was hard for the community in a lot of ways.”
Once the breach day arrived, a new reality began to set in. A variety of interests — environmental groups, cabin owners, white-water rafters, Native tribes and others — became engaged in a different way as the White Salmon River began to chart its course, Neuman said.
“It hasn’t always been easy,” she said. “But I think that there’s been a lot of community healing in the last three years, along with watershed recovery.”
- Read the complete story here.
“Which way to the trashcano?” visitors asked scientists as they walked through the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory in east Vancouver. During Saturday’s open house, it was clear which demo drew the most intrigue.
A sizable crowd gathered in the warehouse parking lot and watched as a volcanologist poured liquid nitrogen into a plastic soda bottle, screwed the cap on tight and set the bottle in a trash can of water. The liquid nitrogen, a gas, wants to expand but can’t inside the confines of the bottle.
“It’s the same principle that drives volcanic eruptions,” said volcanologist Alexa Van Eaton.
After a few seconds of anticipation … BOOM! Water and pink and red balloons shot out of the trash can.
A pair of children — eager to help with the experiment — traced a chalk outline showing how far the material dispersed.
Learning how volcanoes work and identifying hazards is the crux of the volcano observatory, which monitors the Cascade Mountains as far north as Mount Baker near the Canadian border and as far south as Crater Lake in southern Oregon.
There hasn’t been an open house in five years, said spokeswoman Carolyn Driedger. One was scheduled for 2013 but didn’t happen due to budget restraints. Saturday gave researchers a chance to show off what they’ve been working on and the technology they use to learn more about the Cascades. It also happened to fall a couple weeks shy of May 18, the 35th anniversary of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.
On April 23, detectives served a search warrant on a storage unit in east Vancouver, where they seized stolen items, and later served additional warrants on a vehicle and residence, where they found more stolen property.
While the neighborhood response team usually moves quickly through cases, this particular case has consumed an estimated 352 staff hours so far due to the sheer volume of items involved. Dobbs will keep working with another detective to wrap up the case and identify property owners.
After announcing last week that they had recovered all this property, the department was flooded with calls from people trying to retrieve belongings. Detectives and volunteers were still trying to evaluate and document each individual item.
So, for the first time, the agency set up a website and a phone number that leads people through the process of recovering their belongings. Police will get back to people starting Tuesday.
- Read the complete story here.
Teachers will walk out May 13 — at least in Evergreen district, maybe in more
The 1,800-member Evergreen Education Association has voted to hold a one-day strike in Evergreen Public Schools on May 13, and teachers in several other districts are considering joining in.
The event, which also featured a head-shaving that included teacher Ada Dellay, was spearheaded by Cascade Middle School in memory of Grant Jensen, a Cascade seventh-grader with cancer who died in December 2013.
- See more photos here.