Monday, August 2, 2010

Elwha Dam Removal Brings Together Researchers


An interesting article this week in the Seattle Times about the removal of the two Elwha dams, set to begin in fall 2011. As the article states, this is the largest dam removal project ever carried out in the United States and will set an exciting precedent for reclaiming major river systems from outdated, destructive dams. Given the significance of dam removal for the river and its ecosystem, scientists are eager to use the Elwha to better understand a wide range of questions ranging from how rivers transport sediment, how plant communities recover in the newly reclaimed floodplain and perhaps most significantly, how salmon colonize the watershed, establish populations, diversifying and adapting as they fill every niche of the newly available habitat.

Unfortunately the federal government has so far failed to set aside money for studying the outcome of the dam removal forcing scientists to draw funds from a wide variety of sources. Too often with projects of this nature, congress is happy to cut the check for the popular restoration action without following through and ensuring that the recovery of the system is properly studied. Most of the Elwha is within the Olympic National Park and the removal of the two dams on the Elwha will give salmon for access to the pristine watershed for the first time in over 100 years.

Check out the Seattle Times Article:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012495725_elwha31m.html

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