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Elwha River program tonight; wolf vs. big-game webcast Thursday

Outdoors enthusiasts have their choice of two interesting cutting edge programs this week:

Tonight in Spokane — Elwha: A River Reborn, program at the Community Building, 7 p.m.  See details

Thursday on the Web — Big game managers from Washington, Idaho and Montana will discuss their experiences managing game animals in areas populated by wolves, 6:30 p.m.  See details.

Program, book document Elwha River restoration

RIVERS — The author of “Elwha: A River Reborn,” will be in Spokane on Tuesday for a free presentation on the people, places, fish and history behind the world's largest dam removal effort.

Lynda Mapes, a Seattle Times reporter, will speak at 7 p.m. in the Community Building Lobby, 35 W. Main Ave.

The program is sponsored by Save Our Wild Salmon and the Spokane Falls Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Mapes joined Times photographer Steve Ringman to document what’s led to this monumental $325 million environmental restoration project.

Two antiquated dams are being removed to allow the Elwha to run freely for 45 miles from its headwaters in Olympic National Park to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The effort is opening more than 70 miles of spawning habitat to steelhead and all five species of Pacific salmon

Scientists, tribes, elected officials, local communities, agency officials and anglers are putting stock in the power of nature to turn back the clock on an Olympic Peninsula river once known for hosting runs of 100-pound chinook.

  • For more info on the Tuesday program, contact Sam Mace at sam@wildsalmon.org, (509) 747-2030.  

BUMPY ROAD TO RECOVERY: Fish hatchery losses

A pump failure at the Elwha Klallam fish hatcher last weekend led to the deaths of at least 200,000 coho salmon, spawned last fall, and roughly 2,000 year-old steelhead trout — about 50 percent of this year's crop of the fish destined for restoring runs in the Elwha River.  See the story.

National Park group honors Dicks for conservation

PUBLIC LANDS — Retiring Congressman Norm Dicks has receive a conservation award from a national parks group.

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has awarded its highest honor, The George B. Hartzog Award, to Rep. Norm Dicks, D-WA, for his career-long support of America’s national parks and the National Park Service.

Hartzog, Parks director from 1964 to 1972, expanded the National Park System and worked with Congress to achieve comprehensive funding of the national parks.     

Dicks has served on the Interior appropriations subcommittee since being elected to Congress in 1976. 

While he supported a wide range of parks from the Everglades to Yosemite, Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula is a notable gem in Dicks’ district.  He was an early supporter of removing the dams that significantly impacted the park ecosystem and blocked the passage of anadromous fish. 

The Congressman was a key player in securing the passage of the Elwha River Restoration Act in 1992.  After passage of this act, Dicks helped secure 15 consecutive appropriations to make dam removal a reality.

In a press release, the parks retiree group called that “an unheard of accomplishment.”  

The Elwha Dam is gone, and the Glines Canyon Dam will be gone next year.  The Elwha River will be free flowing, and the restoration of a major ecosystem, within a nationally and internationally recognized park, is on its way.

Upon receiving the award, Congressman Dicks said, “this is a great honor and I deeply appreciate the recognition for one of the most enduring causes of my career on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee — improving and expanding our National Parks. These are the ‘crown jewels’ of the American landscape and I am proud of what we did in Congress during my tenure to improve the visitor experience at all of our park units.”                                                                                                                                       

Elwha Dam is history

RIVERS — Ding Dong the Dam is Gone….

That's the report from Olympic National Park.  The decades-old project to remove Elwha Dam and return the Elwha River to the once flourishing run of jumbo chinook salmon has hit a milestone.

The dam is gone.  We have that much accomplish in a project that spans three presidential administrations.

See the photo and update from the Tacoma News-Tribune.  

New hatchery to help restore post-dam Elwha fisheries

FISHING — Another step has been taken toward restoring the fabled steelhead and salmon runs once the dams are removed from the Elwha River near Port Angeles.

The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe’s new fish hatchery was completed May 13 and has received its first batch of steelhead fry to help replenish the river's fisheries.

The hatchery, part of the Elwha River restoration project, has 160,000 juvenile fish swimming in two of the new hatchery ponds. Many more — including pink, chum and coho salmon — are soon expected.

Following removal of the river’s two dams, which will begin in September, the tribe will release as many as 3 million fish a year throughout the 65-mile-long waterway in areas off limits to spawning salmon for nearly a century.

The tribe and National Park Service, which is heading the $327 million river restoration project, are hoping enough will return to restore the once fabled salmon runs. It’s no small task, and the tribe realizes it has few examples from which to learn.

Read on for details from the Associated Press

Revival of rivers begins in 2011

RIVER RESTORATION — According to the conservation group American Rivers, 2011 will be the ‘year of the river’ because of the unprecedented number of major river restoration projects happening nationwide.

After more than a decade of ground work, two of the world’s biggest river restoration projects will begin next fall as two big dams are set to be breached on two rivers in the Pacific Northwest the Elwha River and the White Salmon River. These dams are the largest ever to be removed.

Other major dam removal efforts are proceeding on Maryland’s Patapsco River and Maine’s Penobscot River.

The projects will restore river health, revitalize native fish and wildlife, improve clean water, and deliver significant economic, social and cultural benefits, an American Rivers spokesman says.

FAST FACTS:

  • More than 600 dams have been removed in the United States over the last 50 years.
  • States with the most dams removed include Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.