Do YOU Want A Dam on the Chehalis River?

Do YOU Want A Dam on the Chehalis River?

There is a public comment period on the proposal to build a Dam in the upper Chehalis Watershed.

Make Your Voice Known

Submit A Public Comment

chehalis river steehead salmon drone fish fishing washington

Comments can be submitted online. They can also be mailed to:

SEPA Draft EIS for the Chehalis Flood Damage Reduction Project
c/o Anchor QEA
1201 3rd Ave., Suite 2600
Seattle, WA 98101

The Comment Period for the Chehalis River Dam is May 27th, 2020

About the Chehalis River & Proposed Dam
The longest river contained solely within Washington, the Chehalis produces large amounts of steelhead, chinook, coho, chum, cutthroat trout & other fish species.

chehalis river drone upper steelhead coho chinook picture by Shane Anderson
With lots of development near the river around I5, and logging in the upper reaches, the river has been affected in how it responds to heavy onslaughts of rain, and can occasionally get precipitation of massive proportions. 


Proposed: Dam on the Upper Chehalis River

A "run-of-the-river" Dam that only fills up the reservoir during the "Ten-Year Flood" (large rain event) but requires clearcutting of the upper basin and will affect populations of steelhead, coho and spring chinook by a large percentage. 

Based on the predictions of the 2020 EIS (Environmental Impact Study)

  • Over 15% of the Chehalis Basins Wild Steelhead Spawn above the dam site. 
  • In the first 5 years of dam construction, the steelhead population will be reduced by half and the Spring Chinook will be Extirpated in that part of the basin which is 1 of 3 areas in the entire basin that spring chinook spawn.
  • Water temps in what is considered an important refuge for Juvenile salmon and steelhead could rise up to 9 degrees F.  A nine-degree increase could become lethal for salmon.
  • Sediment loads would also significantly increase from the land clearing for the reservoir. 
  • Recreational steelhead closed this past winter for the first time ever. The construction of this dam could put our steelhead runs over the edge and onto the Endangered Species Act, permanently closing this important Northwest fishery.
  • Tributaries (Wynoochee, Satsop, Skookumchuck, below the dam will be affected and could face additional closures on steelhead & salmon fisheries.

Alternatives to a Dam

  • River restoration and Natural water storage: floodwalls, levees, raising houses, building farm pads, changing floodplain development code.
  • Create a buyout program for people living in harm's way

salmon steelhead chehalis river fish fishing spawning school

Do YOU Agree or Disagree with adding a dam?


  • Habitat restoration & stabilization in the river. 
  • Flood barriers & levees in select areas.

Yes or No? You can comment on this post - but the best thing for you to do is to participate in the Public Comment Period and/or submit a comment online here:

Register online to participate

Comments can be submitted online. They can also be mailed to:

SEPA Draft EIS for the Chehalis Flood Damage Reduction Project
c/o Anchor QEA
1201 3rd Ave., Suite 2600
Seattle, WA 98101

chehalis river steelhead chinook coho water outside shane anderson


"We do not need a Dam. We cannot afford to completely destroy one of the few remaining natural unobstructed river habitat regions. In a time when habitat rebuilding, Salmon and Orca recovery is so crucial, we cannot afford to take a complete watershed in the opposite direction. Research has shown that the Integrated Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan implementation would do amazing things for future water control and landscape/fish recovery."


- Duane Inglin (Host of Fish Hunt Northwest Live Show)


"The Chehalis River is home to one of the last genetically unmolested spring chinook runs in our state. To end their existence would be truly criminal."

- Nathan Bryant (Chehalis River Fishing Guide)
"It's a long-term good to look at long-term solutions, rather than creating a massive dam structure. The dam construction will require a giant clear-cut of timbers near the water. Those trees slow down the erosion of the river banks. They keep the upper river cold & clean for little juvenile fish and for spawning adult fish. If we clear cut it, we will remove a super productive section of the river and an essential spawning creek, especially for over-summering salmon and steelhead fry. We don't want to be the people who decided to try another band-aid solution that destroyed genetically distinct fish runs of Spring Chinook and Wild Steelhead.
There are proven ways to create a better situation for both fish and humans but it will require getting a bunch of well-placed woody debris and scientifically-sound restoration work throughout the river. By doing alternative flood control options, it will help both the residents of the Chehalis Basin & the beautiful fish that spawn up there."
- Lucas Holmgren (Outdoor Writer)
"In a time of Dam removal successes and species revival, like the Elwah for example. It makes no sense to Dam and effectively kills the upper watershed. Kiss the Springer run and steelhead goodbye. Chehalis has flooded for a thousand years. Now someone wants to fix it? How Narcissistic and at the same time short-sighted can our state government be? Save the Orcas plant 1,000,000 spring chinook in the Chehalis."
- Darrel Smith (Washington State Angler)

Read more on the Environmental Impact Study:

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I can’t give details on why but can. The more I read about it the sicker I felt and I had to stop. Now it is your turn to stop. If we haven’t learned by now that we need to protect the natural world Rather than continuing ourdamaging and destroying, then our situations and circumstances will get much worse until we turn ourselves around. We need to turn around not keep destroying and damaging natural systems and creation. We need to take an honest inventory and ameliorate the damage we have caused. Rather than causing more.

Lynn Carey

NO DAM!!!!!


Thanks for this important and informative post, Lucas and STS! Anglers need to get involved before we lose another one of our last best fisheries. There are other reasonable options to reduce flood impacts without damming the Chehalis.

Chase Gunnell

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