The good news keeps coming. Wild coho have found mixing with fix that had been moved into and out of the hatchery during the dam removal.

During the tribe’s annual monitoring of Indian Creek, which connects Lake Sutherland to the Elwha River, the tribe found smolts up to 10 inches long in the tribe’s fyke net. Coho smolts are typically half that size.

Read the rest of the story here:

Elwha Roaring Back to Life – Seattle Times

Great aerial photography of the new Elwha river and a wonderful story with illustrations. While the jury is still out on the long term viability of the returning salmon runs, it does appear, at this early point, that the project is a success. But we won’t know for sure for probably at least 30 years. In the meantime, enjoy the view, and give thanks to the Lower Elwha Tribe, and the individuals and politicians of both parties here on the Peninsula that supported this effort, funded it, and are helping to restore it. The whole world is really watching this one.


ELWHA RIVER — The Elwha watershed is booming with new life, after the world’s largest dam removal.

The first concrete went flying in September 2011, and Elwha Dam was out the following March. Glines Canyon Dam upriver tumbled for good in September 2014. Today the river roars through the tight rock canyon once plugged by Elwha Dam, and surges past the bald, rocky hill where the powerhouse stood. The hum of the generators is replaced by the river singing in full voice, shrugging off a century of confinement like it never happened. Nature’s resurgence is visible everywhere.

Silt, sediment and change: Federal government releases scientific studies on Elwha River dam removal  – PDN

First wave of scientific studies on the Elwha since the dam removal

Five peer-reviewed studies on the effects of the Elwha River dam removal were released this week. Authors with the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, Washington Sea Grant, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and the University of Washington provide detailed observations about the changes in the river’s landforms, waters and coastal zone during the first two years of dam removal, which began in 2011. In the largest dam removal project in U.S. history, the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were demolished, allowing the river to revert to its wild state. The five new papers can be found in Elsevier’s peer-reviewed journal, Geomorphology, which can be found at (Peninsula Daily News)

Return of the River – A homerun of a movie for Gussman and Plumb

Just got out of the world premiere of  ‘Return of the River”, the film that likely will be considered the definitive work on the Elwha Dam removal.  This film, years in the making, was a labor of love for the two Peninsula based filmmakers, John Gussman and Jessica Plumb. And it was great to see it premiered here at the Port Townsend Film Festival.

The film tracks in detail the history of the dam, but more importantly the place that is the Elwha River, the feel for the Olympic Peninsula then and now, and a great depth of interviews with people that were instrumental, on both sides of the controversial project.  It is impossible not to come away impressed with the idea that hard things to do take a long time, and a lot of consensus building. From the interviews with leading politicians, mill managers, environmentalists, writers, biologists, and most importantly, the tribal members of the Lower Elwha Tribe, who never gave up hope to bring back the historic runs. There were so many people who played significant small roles in this drama. Gussman and Plumb treated all with the respect they deserve. There are no demeaning ‘heroes and villains’ caricatures.

It is almost trite to say that certain stories are ‘epic’ and ‘pivotal’ but the removal of the Elwha Dam has been just that. It has galvanized world attention more than almost any other single environmental event of the last ten years, because it is a message of hope. Hope that we can restore what we have destroyed. Gussman and Plumb have captured that story, distilled it to 70 minutes, and given fair treatment to all sides, and points of view. More than ever, we need stories of hope in the face of ever mounting environmental problems to solve.

In the last week, I’ve posted the story that bull trout have been seen in the upper Elwha for the first time in a century. Also that the shores of the Elwha estuary are turning back into a clam bed capable  sand spit. The power of restoration is an amazing thing to watch.  The restoration of this river, with it’s unique short run from sea to protected park, is possible, and is happening, right now, in front of our eyes for just taking the time to go look.

Gussman and Plumb, along with the rest of their crew, have given us the story, in all it’s facets. A well crafted storyline, beautiful filmmaking, solid editing, a wonderful original soundtrack, animation when needed of the hard concepts.

Congratulations for a remarkable piece of work. A 5 star must see film.

EVENT: Premiere of “Return of the River” on the Elwha Dam Removal

My friend and fellow filmmaker John Gussman has completed his epic film on the removal of the Elwha dam. Come see his film in Port Townsend

Friday, 6:30 p.m., Rose Theatre
Saturday, 12:15 p.m., Peter Simpson Free Cinema

“Return of the River” is a feature documentary that tells the story of the largest dam removal and river restoration project in history, currently unfolding on the Elwha River in Washington State. The film explores an extraordinary community effort to set the river free, and shows an unlikely victory for environmental justice. Told by an ensemble cast of characters, “Return of the River” offers hope amid grim environmental news.

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Update on the Elwha Dam Removal – PDN

Report on the river now that the final dam has been blasted away. Still some cleanup but the end is in sight.

Freed Elwha River’s water level falling enough to allow dam removal to finish – PDN

Final bits to be removed this summer.

The Elwha River is finally beginning to cooperate with efforts to remove the last bit of dam blocking it. The volume of flow has lowered enough to allow crews with National Park Service contractor Barnard Construction Co. Inc. to restart work — perhaps as early as next week — to take down the final remnant of Glines Canyon Dam 8 miles from the mouth of the Elwha River. Jeremy Schwartz reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Read the rest of the story at:

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As dams fall, rapid changes on Elwha River – Houston Chronicle

Good short article about changes on the Elwha.

An undammed Elwha River building beaches again: Crab found where it once was too rocky – PDN

Good news for the Elwha restoration…

During a recent survey of sediment that flowed down the Elwha River and accrued along a beach to the east of the river mouth, Ian Miller found something he had not yet seen during his surveys. Miller, a coastal hazards specialist with Washington Sea Grant, came across a Dungeness crab that had tucked itself into fine-grain sand onto the lowest portion of a beach east of the river mouth, just north of where Sampson Road on the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation ends. Jeremy Schwartz reports.

More Elwha Dam Removed – PDN

A huge piece of Glines Canyon Dam was blasted away late Saturday as dam removal on the Elwha River resumed. Explosive charges set by demolition crews removed almost the entire eastern third of the remaining 60 feet of concrete dam, webcam photos show. But water did not immediately flow through the new gap because of tons of sediment behind the dam as well as rubble from the explosion that created temporary blockage between the current river channel and the new hole. With a section of the former 210-foot dam removed nearly to the original riverbed, workers will clear a passable fish channel on the floor of the river canyon before stopping work in November for the next fish window, according to Brian Krohmer, dam removal project manager.

Arwyn Rice reports. Glines Canyon Dam doesn’t look much like a dam anymore

See also: Chinook salmon returning to dam-less Elwha River

Mystery solved: Kelp off Elwha River mouth a rare spring variety found in late summer – Peninsula Daily News

A mystery kelp found during a survey of Clallam County offshore sea life has been positively identified as a regionally native but rare growth known as Laminaria ephemera…. Read the rest of the story at the PDN link below.
Arwyn Rice reports.

Mystery kelp found in Strait at Elwha River mouth – PDN

An uncommon species of kelp was found last week off the Elwha River mouth — possibly a species that has not been seen there before. A team of scientists found the kelp, thought to be Laminaria ephemera or Laminaria yezoensis, during a survey of the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the Elwha River mouth and brought it to the Feiro Marine Life Center on City Pier for temporary safekeeping. “There is something strange going here, something different,” said Steve Rubin, a fishery biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. Arwyn Rice reports.

Read the whole story at:

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Salmon heading to spawn past Elwha Dam site – King 5 & PDN

And more good news….

For the second year in a row, salmon are swimming in streams above the site of the former Elwha Dam. The Peninsula Daily News reports last summer’s return of salmon to the Elwha River above the former dam’s site were the first in 100 years. Olympic National Park spokeswoman Rainey McKenna says biologists have counted at least 500 adult chinook in the river, as well as a few pink salmon and coho.–222951691.html

More repairs needed at water plant, will likely hold up Elwha River dam removal work – PDN

Additional repairs are needed for the sediment-clogged Elwha Water Treatment Plant on the Elwha River…
Jeremy Schwartz and Paul Gottlieb report.

Dead salmon found along silt-choked Elwha River after hatchery release – PDN

Piles of dead year-old chinook salmon, numbering at least in the hundreds, were found along the Elwha River’s lower banks and mouth after hatchery smolts were released last week. State Fish and Wildlife Department officials will consider alternatives for future releases of fish, said Mike Gross, Fish and Wildlife fish biologist for Clallam County and West Jefferson County, who called the release “a mistake.” Sediment from the river clogged the gills of most he examined, said Mike McHenry, a fish biologist and habitat manager for the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, who saw the dead fish at the river’s mouth and on sandbars Monday and Tuesday. Jeremy Schwartz reports.

Talk on the Elwha Dam Removals by Eric Kessler- April 11th – Port Townsend

S'Klallam woman watching dam removalphoto by Eric Kessler

Undamming the Elwha River
April 1, 2013
PORT TOWNSEND— On April 11, photographer and naturalist Eric Kessler will retrace the long, remarkable journey that led to the undamming of the Elwha River. His slide show and talk will offer a broad overview of the ecological, cultural, and political issues surrounding the largest project of its kind to date in the U.S. The program is sponsored by the Natural History Society of the Jefferson Land Trust.
“An amazing collage of circumstances, spanning four presidential administrations and 18 Congressional appropriations bills, came together to allow this landmark event to happen,” Kessler says. “And the restoration is playing out on multiple levels,” he adds. Re-establishing the salmon runs and renewing the flow of nutrients to streams and forests will benefit the Elwha ecosystem. Redressing the treaty obligations between the state and federal governments and about 40 tribes around Puget Sound will benefit the Lower S’Klallam people. And rectifying Washington State’s decades-long neglect of fish passage regulations and environmental protection on the Elwha will restore the trust of citizens. “Each of these threads has a fascinating story, but the big picture—the magnitude of what’s happening on the river and all the levels on which wrongs are being corrected—is even more powerful,” he says. Moreover, the Elwha represents a template for other dam river removals and restoration efforts around the country.
An avid wilderness explorer and traveler, Kessler’s career as a freelance photographer spans 25 years. His natural history photos, shot in dozens of locations around the world, have appeared in a wide range of publications on outdoor recreation, travel, and more. A long-time resident of Washington, he has worked around and photographed the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula for nearly two decades. Recently he has focused on documenting the three-year process of removing the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams and the restoration of the river. He currently splits his time between San Juan Island with his two children and the Olympic Peninsula with his partner.
The program will take place at 7:00 pm in the Cotton Building, 607 Water Street, Port Townsend. It is free and open to the public, but a $5 donation would be appreciated to help defray the costs.

Publicity contact: Noreen Parks 379-4007
For interviews and photos, contact Eric Kessler at

More mud on the Elwha than expected. And kelp at risk at the mouth of river- Various Sources

More unexpected learning experiences from the Elwha Dam project.

A mother lode of mud is making its way down the Elwha River, and with it, an armada of floating and waterlogged debris. Scientists recently learned there was about 41 percent more sediment trapped behind the dams than originally thought — and that the river is transporting more mud and wood than they expected. Lynda Mapes reports.

Elwha gnaws away at a century of sediment

See also: Kelp armageddon at the mouth of the Elwha

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Tribal hatchery transports first fish of fall to Elwha tributaries – PDN

Report on the salmon returns this year on the Elwha. Good news here:
A number of salmon are getting a helping hand to two of the larger tributaries of the Elwha River from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Fish Hatchery, where fish are taking refuge from increased sediment loads coursing down the river in the wake of dam removal. Some 300 coho and a handful of chum already have made their way to the tribal hatchery and the state rearing channel — enough to preserve this year’s run. Jeremy Schwartz reports.

Read the rest of the story at the link below:

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What a difference a year makes: Elwha River dam removals ahead of schedule as project reaches first anniversary – PDN

One behemoth has been felled, with one left to go. Although the monolithic Elwha River Dam, which towered 108 feet over the Lower Elwha River Valley for nearly 100 years, has been demolished, work still remains on the once-210-foot-tall Glines Canyon Dam. And a year after removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams commenced, restoration of the Elwha River is ahead of schedule — perhaps by as much as 18 months — and exceeding expectations on several fronts. Rob Ollikainen and Jeremy Schwartz report.

Legendary “creation site” of Lower Elwha uncovered

It appears that a legendary “creation site” of the Lower Elwha Tribe has been uncovered with the removal of the dams. This site, which was discussed to anthropologists studying the tribes legends over a hundred years ago, has now been visited by elders who say it is the same place as described.

The whole story is at the PDN:

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