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.

http://projects.seattletimes.com/2016/elwha/

With dams down, restored Elwha River mouth ‘a treasure – PDN

The Elwha recovery continues.

No one, not even among those studying the ecology of the Elwha River mouth, expected the degree of change seen there after the dams came down, according to a woman who has researched it for years. An area that once was little more than large cobbles is now a vast tract of quiet, sandy beach speckled with hundreds of seabirds and brushed by ocean waves. It contains pools constantly dimpled by the jumping of fish. Sometimes, looking at the acres of new beach — and the new life it now supports — she nearly cries, said Anne Shaffer, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Coastal Watershed Institute of Port Angeles. Arwyn Rice and Leah Leach report. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20151108/NEWS/311089987/with-dams-down-restored-elwha-river-mouth-a-treasure

See also:  Who owns new Elwha River land? Discussions begin about ownership, responsibilityhttp://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20151108/news/311089974/who-owns-new-elwha-river-land-discussions-begin-about-ownership Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

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 www.journals.elsevier.com/geomorphology. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150218/news/302189985/silt-sediment-and-change-federal-government-releases-scientific

Video: Coastal Watershed Institute Elwha Sampling

The work continues on the Great Healing of the Elwha.

Anne Shaffer of CWI writes: “At our January long term sampling of the Elwha estuary and lower river we documented-for the first time after looking for over a decade-hundreds of gravid and spent eulachon, Thaleichthys pacificus, and a gravid female long fin smelt, Spirinchus thaleichthys. These   forage fish, which are federally listed along areas of the west coast due to their  precipitous decline, are-literally-the backbone of coastal cultures and nearshore ecosystems…. Within five months of the dam removal ending, these fish are literally flooding the system, feeding dozens of harbor seals and thousands of birds.”

Elwha spit continues its growth

ElwhaEstuary12_31_2015The Elwha Spit 12/31/2014. Photo courtesy of (Tom Roorda and Coastal Watershed Institute)

Storms bring massive amounts of Elwha River sediment downstream – PDN

The Peninsula Daily News covers the changes happening to the Elwha. The recent storms have washed massive amounts of sediment down the river, as planned. The article doesn’t mention that this late December storm, with the record temperatures we are having, means that snowpack will not be as low as it once was. This adds to the volume of water coming down the river, which in pre-industrial days would have been trapped in snow and more slowly released in the spring.

Worth a read if you follow the Elwha story.

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20141223/NEWS/312239990/storms-bring-massive-amounts-of-elwha-river-sediment-downstream

Environmental Tech Startup Demonstrates New Mapping of Elwha

These guys are doing some very interesting new technology. Check them out.

The Elwha Project

Flying FishViews Announcement, November 12, 2014

This morning Flying FishViews Inc. (F2V) released an innovative approach for interacting with rivers,coasts and shores, demonstrated by the first-ever panoramic tour of Washington State’s Elwha River.

F2V’s digital maps (called FishViews) offer a unique perspective for navigating rivers online. Using street view-style panoramic imagery, collected from the surface of the water and fused with other location-specific information like water quality data, F2V is delivering a comprehensive visual and data-driven experience that enables science, recreation and conservation. Available on the website F2V.me, the Elwha River FishView tour shows F2V’s commitment to our waterways by demonstrating online access to digital maps of aquatic environments. (Go directly to the Elwha River tour at: http://F2V.me/elwha-river.html)

F2V is a Seattle-based tech startup that spent the last 18 months developing technology to capture FishViews, a fresh way to tell the story of our rivers, coasts and shores. This new approach enables users to view and navigate within panoramic, river-level imagery. FishViews are captured thru HD photography on, over and under the water, and fused with concurrent measurements of the physical properties of the waterway – all synchronized by time and location. FishViews provide users with a rich, immersive browsing experience that enables greater understanding of a specific location or area.

“Like many new, revolutionary data products, once it is available people will recognize the remaining data gaps even more – driving demand for more extensive coverage with this product.” John Mickett, PhD Senior Oceanographer, University of Washington Applied Physics Lab.

Dam removal began on the Elwha River in mid-September 2011. Today, the Elwha Dam is gone, all of Glines Canyon Dam has been removed, and the Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell reservoirs have drained.

The Elwha River now flows freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the first time in 100 years. The dam removal process was completed in late August of this year and F2V was there to capture the state of the river two days after the last dam came down. Thru Elwha River FishViews, users can virtually float and snorkel the river, and with F2V-collected data and call outs to important physical and biological features on the river, users can check out conditions before visiting the river – and even zoom in on important features.

Prior to being dammed in the early 20th century, the Elwha River was home to some of the largest Chinook salmon in the northern hemisphere. During F2V’s Elwha data collection, Chinook salmon were imaged spawning in the Elwha above the dams for the first time in over 100 years.

F2V aims to assist in the monitoring and assessment of the Elwha recovery to benefit scientific research, natural resource management, conservation, recreation and education. Looking to the future, F2V intends to work with Elwha River stakeholders to catalogue the recovery process and extend the project further upriver, eventually capturing the entire 45 miles from source to sea.

More broadly, the Elwha project represents the leading edge of a Puget Sound Region initiative to collect and present FishViews for 300 miles of Puget Sound Region rivers, coasts and shores – and prove out commercial viability for providing web-access to aquatic environments. Stay tuned for more FishViews of rivers and waterways throughout Washington State and the US, including tours of Texas’ Spring Lake,

San Marcos River and Lady Bird Lake.

For Inquiries, please contact:

Brian Footen 206.235.9286 or Scott Gallagher 210.516.5910

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.

Find us on facebook at facebook.com/ReturnOfTheRiver

Port Angeles Begins Work on Landfill Nearshore Restoration

Received from Anne Schaeffer of the Coastal Watershed Institute:

On Tuesday, 12 August 2014, Jamie Michel, CWI nearshore biologist and Kathryn Neal, City of Port Angeles, updated NOAA, DFW, and DNR management on key priorities for the Elwha nearshore and the City of Port Angeles. The city, after literally a decade of urging by the local citizens, local and regional scientists and managers, has taken the first step to solve the problem of the City of Port Angeles landfill.

If done well part of this solution will optimize upcoming sediment delivery from Elwha dam removals, reverse 100 years of sediment starvation, and protect/restore critical nearshore of the feeder bluffs of the Elwha nearshore.

CWI continues to lead this dialog and is dedicated to collaboratively realizing solutions that benefit the community and the Elwha nearshore-and the national resources it supports. It’s been a surprisingly challenging effort to get these world class nearshore management issues and restoration opportunities onto the action radar of a few of our state and federal management agencies. Thankfully WDFW, DNR, DoE, the CoE, and EPA are helping. And with leadership from Sissi Bruch, Dan McKeen, and Craig Fulton we are now making headway.

 

Pictures and details on our blog:http://www.coastalwatershedinstitute.org/blog/.

 

Anne Shaffer

Coastal Watershed Institute

P.O.Box 2263

Port Angeles, Washington 98362

anne.shaffer@coastalwatershedinstitute.org

360.461.0799

www.coastalwatershedinstitute.org

 

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:

 http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140807/NEWS/308079991/freed-elwha-rivers-water-level-falling-enough-to-allow-dam-removal

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the Peninsula Daily News

Biologists track fish recovery in tough conditions on Elwha River – Seattle Times

From sonar to snorkels, biologists are using a range of tactics to keep track of fish recovery under way on the Elwha River. The last of two fish-blocking dams are expected to be out as of mid-September, a major milestone in a $325 million recovery program for the river…. As the concrete tumbles, biologists from state and federal agencies and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe are working under difficult conditions to learn how recovery is progressing. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Read the whole story and subscribe to the Seattle Times. Support local journalism and jobs.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024180269_elwhafishxml.html

An Undammed River’s Sediment Brings New Life Downstream – Earthfix

Anne Shaffer sits on the sandy shoreline of the Elwha River and looks around in amazement. Just two years ago, this area would have been under about 20 feet of water. So far about 3 million cubic yards of sediment — enough to fill about 300,000 dump trucks — has been released from the giant bathtubs of sediment that formed behind the two hydroelectric dams upstream. And that’s only 16 percent of what’s expected to be delivered downstream in the next five years. All of that sediment is already reshaping the mouth of the Elwha, which empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the northern shore of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Katie Campbell reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/an-undammed-rivers-sediment-flush-delivers-new-hab/

Peninsula salmon projects get $4.5 million – PDN

Lots of good projects that are going to give jobs to folks here on the Peninsula, and help restore salmon habitat. The work is far from being completed, but it’s good to see these projects and land purchases get funded. Tying this together with the work described by Earth Economics over the weekend on this site, it’s worth it to note that there is value in these ecosystem renewal projects. Slowing the rivers by putting in log jams, for example, do not just provide scientifically proven habitat for salmon (especially young salmon migrating downstream), but they also aide in flood protection among other benefits. Flood plain protection is a value that lowers the cost to repairing damage from floods over multiple decades.

The state has awarded $4.5 million in grants for new salmon restoration projects on the North Olympic Peninsula. ….

Rob Ollikainen reports.

There’s quite a bit more to the story at:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131208/NEWS/312089997/peninsula-salmon-projects-get-45-million

 

Support local journalism, subscribe to the Peninsula Daily News.

Elwha River sees largest run of Chinook in decades – Skagit Valley Herald

A story to cheer up David Suzuki this morning (G).

The largest run of Chinook salmon in decades returned to the Elwha River this fall, according to officials with the Olympic National Park. Fish are streaming into stretches of the Elwha River and its tributaries that were formerly blocked by the Elwha Dam, park officials said Friday on its website. The Elwha Dam, one of two dams on the river, stood for nearly a century before it came down in 2012.

Read the whole story at

http://www.goskagit.com/news/state/elwha-river-sees-largest-run-of-chinook-in-decades/article_1b9a30b6-b9b7-56f8-a44f-3c6272c3c830.html

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.

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131014/NEWS/310149994/an-undammed-elwha-river-building-beaches-again-crab-found-where-it

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 http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131007/NEWS/310079998/glines-canyon-dam-doesnt-look-much-like-a-dam-anymore

See also: Chinook salmon returning to dam-less Elwha River http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131007/news/310079992/0/SEARCH/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.
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130923/news/309239979/mystery-solved-kelp-off-elwha-river-mouth-a-rare-spring-variety

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:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130919/news/309199984/mystery-kelp-found-in-strait-at-elwha-river-mouth

Support local journalism: subscribe to the Peninsula Daily News

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.

http://www.king5.com/news/environment/Salmon-spawn-Elwha-Dam–222951691.html

%d bloggers like this: