Similkameen, river of life

Dear Editor,

The town of Oroville has seen better days Our businesses are struggling up and down Main Street. The industries of timber, mining and cattle are in decline. We need a new source of economic activity. Just like the Methow, we have natural beauty, wildlife and wonderful outdoor resources for fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, camping, birdwatching, photography and more. Of all our resources, a wild Similkameen River, released from 100 years of captivity behind Enloe Dam, has the greatest potential for increasing our annual tourist dollars.

According to N.O.A.A.’s National Marine Fisheries, the Similkameen River is the “crown jewel “of steelhead recovery in the Upper Columbia Basin. The 166 miles of new spawning habitat above Enloe in the US and Canada would support 100,000 adult steelhead annually. This will help insure the survival of this threatened species and benefit communities from Okanogan to Oroville as fishermen pursue this highly prized game fish. Those extra visitors arriving November through March will be a welcome sight on our Main Streets.

Enloe Dam was decommissioned in 1958 because the electricity produced could not justify the expense of maintaining the powerhouse. Today, with modern turbines, a new powerhouse would lose between $1.7 million and $2.5 million annually, require $50 million of additional borrowing to build, and would trigger on going continuous rate increases no one can afford. No other utility in the region has shown any interest in this project even with a license granted because it is such an economic loser.

Our PUD must recognize there is no future for Enloe Dam as a source of affordable electricity. Our Public Utility must work sincerely with N.O.A.A. and the interested agencies to remove Enloe Dam and let the “Big Rainbows,” Upper Columbia Steelhead, spawn upriver. Call, write or E-mail your Okanogan County PUD Commissioners. It is time to work with N.O.A.A. and remove Enloe Dam. Future generations will thank us if we do.

Joseph Enzensperger