Did You Know? Elwha River

The Elwha River is returning thanks to the largest dam removal project in history. Learn more about this incredible restoration effort and how you can get involved.
Regina Robinson Regina Robinson
Olympia Branch Communications Volunteer
September 13, 2017
Did You Know? Elwha River
Author Regina Robinson explores a new topic each month in her "Did You Know?" series, which comes out in the Olympia Branch Newsletter. 

The Elwha River, which spans 45 miles in the Olympic Peninsula, is part of a massive restoration project that included demolishing Glines Canyon Dam, one of the tallest dams to ever be intentionally breached.

In addition to the removal of the 210ft Glines Canyon Dam, the Elwha River Restoration Project brought down the Elwha Dam in 2011. In total it is the largest dam removal project in history and the second largest ecosystem restoration project in the history of the National Park Service. It was such a big deal, we (The Mountaineers Books) published a book about it, Elwha: A River Reborn.

The return of the Elwha River comes thanks to the Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act of 1992. The effort aims to restore native salmon runs, plants, and wildlife populations. Since work began, 70 acres of estuary habitat have been created at the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Elwha has come a long way, but there's still lots to be done. Here are some ways to get involved:

Matt Albright Native Plant Center  

This native plant propagation program is recognized as being one of the best in the Pacific Northwest and has produced more than 400,000 native plants. One of its objectives is to restore plant populations destroyed by dams along the Elwha River. 

The Matt Albrighst Native Plant Center is in the thick of transplanting season and could use a boost! You can drop in to volunteer Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am to 4pm. Learn more.

Eel Grass Salvage on Ediz Hook

(with Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe biologists)

Many hands are needed from June 19-25 to salvage eel grass on Ediz Hook. The Navy has granted the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe biologists a short one week window to salvage eel grass from the site of the new pier that is being built. Volunteers will work on shore taking eel grass from divers, who will be digging it up, and transporting it to another site on Ediz Hook for replanting. This is an important and time sensitive effort that will benefit our near shore marine habitat for years to come! Please come and help out. Please email Matt Beirne to get more information and sign up.


Want to learn more about the Elwha River? Check out the links below.

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Carolyn Burreson
Carolyn Burreson says:
Sep 29, 2017 01:07 PM

Author of the book Elwa A River Reborn will be speaking Wednesday evening, January 3 in Olympia.
Go to Olympiamountainers.org for more information