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First salmon in 102 years return to Elwha River

FISHING — The Elwha River dams removal is one of the great "return-to-nature" stories to follow into the next decade….

“When dam removal began three years ago, chinook salmon were blocked far downstream by the Elwha Dam,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.

“Today, we celebrate the return of chinook to the upper Elwha River for the first time in over a century. Thanks to the persistence and hard work of many National Park Service employees, the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and many other partners, salmon can once again reach the pristine Elwha watershed within Olympic National Park."

Tuesday Video: Freeing the Elwha

Last week's event about dam removal on the Elwha River had me digging up this incredible video. 

It's a lapse video for removal of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River from September 14th through November 4th, 2011. The largest dam removal project in the United States, the Elwha now flows freely for the first time in nearly 100 years.

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.

Watch “Undamming The Elwha”

















The removal of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River from September 14th through November 4th in 2011 was the largest dam removal project in the United States. It allowed the Elwha to flow freely for the first time in nearly 100 years. It also opened more than 70 miles of river and stream habitat to five species of Pacific salmon and steelhead.

Now a new documentary called Undamming The Elwha, produced in partnership with Earth Fix, is airing on KCTS - Western and Central Washington's PBS affiliate. If you go to the KCTS page, you can watch the documentary as a whole or clips about what dams have done to the Elwha, the salmon runs and more ecosystem restoration.

Freeing The Elwha: Glines Canyon Dam Removal time lapse video

Check this amazing time lapse video for removal of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River from September 14th through November 4th.



This is the largest dam removal project in the United States and the Elwha will flow freely for the first time in nearly 100 years. It will also open more than 70 miles of river and stream habitat to five species of Pacific salmon and steelhead.

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