Thursday, October 25, 2012

Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha is Almost Gone

Photo from the Elwha River Restoration Facebook page

The historic dam removal and restoration of the Elwha River has proceeded faster than most experts expected, and today for the first time since 1926 the river ran freely through what was once Lake Mills. Removal of Glines Canyon dam, the upper of the two dams has proceeded nicely this fall and today that last remaining standing water drained out of the Lake Mills reservoir. Elwha dam was removed this spring. As dam removal continues, sediment that has been trapped behind the dam for almost a century is working its way down river, shaping habitats, and restoring the lower Elwha's sediment starved floodplain and delta as it goes. The dam should be gone entirely by late spring 2013. 

While all the parties involved in the dam removal deserve a hearty congratulations, much work remains to be done to ensure that the rivers once robust populations of wild salmon and steelhead are able to make a full recovery. The recovery plan for the Elwha remains woefully inadequate, relying heavily on hatchery supplementation, ignoring the abundance of newly available habitat and the inherent ability of wild salmon and steelhead to recolonize habitats opened by dam removal. As long as industrial scale hatchery supplementation continues in the basin wild fish will never meet their full potential, a terrible shame considering the more than $300 million of taxpayer money that has funded the dam removal project.

More information in the Seattle Times:

and check out the progress at the Elwha Restoration Project website:

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