Tag Archive for 'elwha dam removal'

Salmon Re-enter Olympic National Park River Thanks to Elwha Dam Removal

Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“The National Park Service reported this week that adult Chinook (king) salmon have been seen in the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, less than five months after removal began on the Elwha Dam. According to the Park Service, the fish are the first of their kind known to enter the park through that river, since Olympic was established twenty-five years after the dam went up in 1913. (See a map of the region.)

The dam had blocked off more than 70 miles of formerly prime Elwha River habitat for the fish, which had been an important part of the local ecosystem and a key food source for local indigenous people.

As National Geographic previously reported, the Klallam Tribe still say that the Elwha River had been so full of salmon that a person could cross from one bank to the other by walking atop the thrashing bodies of fish struggling to move upstream to spawn.

According to the Park Service, Chinook were seen this week about two miles upstream from the park border by Phil Kennedy, the park’s lead fisheries technician.

Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) are the largest of the Pacific salmon, and historically entered rivers from California to Alaska, as well as in parts of Asia. Adult fish tend to range in length from 33 to 36 inches (840 to 910 mm) but may be up to 58 inches (1,500 mm). They average 10 to 50 pounds (4.5 to 23 kg), but may reach 130 pounds (59 kg). Their numbers have dropped due to loss of spawning grounds, and nine local populations are listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S.”

Read more: National Geographic

 

Salmon revival in sight as Elwha River dams fall in U.S. Northwest

Photo retrieved from: www.reuters.com

“The two dams, about 80 miles northwest of Seattle, blocked migratory routes of salmon and steelhead trout to some 70 miles of tributary habitat, in the process robbing Native Americans of income by halting a treaty-guaranteed reservation fishery.

The river teemed with thrashing pink salmon before the Elwha Dam was built to generate electricity for the nearby mill town of Port Angeles, with a current population of around 19,000, and later, to a naval shipyard in Bremerton, about 80 miles away.

The Elwha Dam’s removal, completed in late March, was hailed by Governor Christine Gregoire as a significant environmental milestone that “shows what happens, when against many odds, a river is restored to its natural beauty.”

Supporters of the dam’s destruction say the benefits to the environment of tearing it down outweigh the loss of its aging power-generating station.

The destruction of the Glines should be finished in about a year to 18 months, ending the biggest dam demolition in U.S. history.

The removal of the two dams – ordered by a 1992 law signed by then-President George H.W. Bush – is aimed at restoring the natural habitat of more than 300,000 salmon. Economic and environmental impact analyses delayed the project’s start.”

Read more: Reuters

Historic Dam Removal

Elwha Dam. Retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

For 98 years, the 125-foot high Condit Dam in southeastern Washington State held back the White Salmon River, creating a serene lake, but choking off the waterway to salmon. Wednesday, in an historic effort, the dam was dramatically breached, and ecologists hope the increased flow of water will restore the waterway to fish and other aquatic organisms, as well as the birds and mammals that rely on them.

The dam removal comes just weeks after dismantling began on the Elwha Dama few hours to the north. Demolition of the Condit occured with a bang, compared to the virtual whimper of the Elwha. At that site, downstream from Olympic National Park, engineers are dismantling the two dams slowly, in a process that’s expected to take three years. They say a quicker removal would endanger the area due to the higher amount of silt in the lake.

Silt is still readily apparent in the dramatic video above, both in the darkly colored water rushing from underneath the conrete and in the fast-emptying lake.”

Read more: National Geographic