"I can't believe I am living long enough to see it actually happen," said Phyllis Clausen, 87, of Vancouver, Wash., who with other citizen activists has fought for restoration of the White Salmon as a free flowing river since joining the "Friends of the White Salmon":http://friendsofthewhitesalmon.org/, a non-profit citizens' conservation group, in 1976. "We kept working on things for the river, and it just became our obsession," she said.
What she centers on as she talks about the long campaign that will be rewarded with a boom on Oct. 26, when the dam is breached, was the power of persistence. It wasn't any one letter or hearing or action that got the job done, she said, but just staying with it, even when it seemed hopeless.
Phyllis Clausen and Friends of the White Salmon fought for restoration and dam removal on the White Salmon for decades, even when it seemed hopeless. Photo courtesy, Phyllis Clausen
"Situations change over many years, and what seemed impossible at early times might become possible, just because situations surrounding the issue change. That occurs slowly, but if you are tuned in to take advantage of those moments, like the moment when the dam came up for re-licensing, then you may be able to accomplish something," Clausen said.
"It took a number of people, and it certainly wasn't just me. I felt, it was that this river was so important to so many people, I think it for a lot of us, it's a home, really, and it has the same beauty to us. I could go down and sit there on a cliff side with my feet dangling and eat a picnic lunch and watch dippers down in the water and birds flying all around there, and I would remember that, long after I left."