During the 1950s and '60s, the Washington Department of Fisheries successfully demonstrated that Chinook salmon released into Capitol Lake could be expected to survive well.
This, along with a need to open the upper river to migratory fish led to the construction of the existing fish ladders and fish handling facilities. Annual fish production continues to support fish viewing at the lake's dam.
Opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing have disappeared as the lake has filled with sand and silt (bed load) from the upper Deschutes watershed. Fish production has most likely been similarly impacted. On the positive side, waterfowl of all types rest and forage on the lake during their fall migration, sometimes in very large numbers.
Fishery-related harvest and economic importance and the lake's historic use clearly support its maintenance.
Never miss a local story.
Further, the lake provides settling for material that would otherwise be destined for the Port of Olympia moorage and deep water port areas. The river provided bed load is a continuing liability requiring our eventual attention – we are at that point!
Bottom line – environmental intangibles resulting from dam removal are far outweighed by benefits aptly demonstrated by Olympia’s history!
Keep the dam, dredge the Lake and let’s go swimming and boating again!