Fish Already Returning to Elwha River after Dam Removal
In September 2011, the largest dam removal in U.S. history began on the Elwha River in Washington—home to all five species of Pacific salmon. Just a few short months after the 108-foot tall Elwha Dam was removed, fish have already begun to return to their restored habitat. Part of the restoration process includes releasing tagged fish into the river above the lower dam. This will jump start the recolonization of the habitat, which had been cut off from migratory salmon for almost a hundred years. So far, we’ve released about 60 steelhead and 600 salmon into the river upstream of the former dam site. These fish have already begun to spawn.
Year of the River: Episode 3
by Andy Maser Decmeber 2011
The third video in our Year of the River series, this film gives background on the historic Elwha River conservation success, and introduces us to two advocates, Rick Rutz and Shawn Cantrell, who helped make it happen. And special thanks to our oarsman Bruce McGlenn for getting us down the river.
Condit Dam in Washington State
The Condit Dam in Washington State has been dramatically dismantled, to restore a salmon stream for the first time in a century.For 98 years, the 125-foot high Condit Dam in southeastern Washington State held back the White Salmon River, creating a serene lake, but choking off the waterway to salmon. Wednesday, in an historic effort, the dam was dramatically breached, and ecologists hope the increased flow of water will restore the waterway to fish and other aquatic organisms, as well as the birds and mammals that rely on them. Click here for video.
Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History Begins With Help from NOAA
On September 27, work began on the biggest dam removals ever undertaken in the United States. The Elwha River was once the largest producer of salmon on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. But in the early 20th century, two dams were built on the river, blocking fish passage. Before they were built, salmon could swim more than 100 miles up the river to spawn. With the construction of the dams, those fish now only have access to five miles of river--which has drastically reduced salmon populations in the area. The Elwha Dam is more than 100 feet high, and the Glines Canyon Dam stretches to 210 feet. Due to their size, and the massive amount of sediment trapped behind them, the removals will be complex--taking two years to complete. NOAA funded a series of restoration projects that helped prepare the river and surrounding floodplain for the dramatic changes anticipated when the dams are removed.
It is estimated that within 30 years, the river will produce 390,000 salmon and steelhead each year. NOAA aims to continue to monitor the habitat conditions within the river and the response of salmon to the restoration efforts and dam removal. More information: http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/hllargestdamremovelinushistory.html