Encouraging News for the Elwha Restoration Project

Updates on the Elwha River watershed since the removal of the Glines Canyon Dam.
Sarah Krueger Lange Sarah Krueger Lange
November 24, 2013

We are thrilled to hear that biologists have observed the largest Chinook salmon run since 1992 in the Elwha River and that dam removal is back on schedule. Biologists counted 1,741 adult Chionook and mapped 763 redds (salmon nests) between the mouth of the river and Glines Canyon dam. Of the total salmon counted during the one-day survey, 75% were observed upstream of the former Elwha Dam site.

The dam project, which began in September of 2011, had been on pause for the last year while water intake issues were dealt with at the Elwha Water facilities site.  While the engineers were working at the facilities site, habitat restoration within the drained reservoirs continued in full force. By the beginning of October dam removal was ready to resume and a ten foot vertical notch was blasted from the Glines Canyon dam.  Additional notches in the dam will be made in the next calendar year on case by case basis depending on current flows and reservoir levels and will continue until the sediments settle appropriately. The National Park has some great details about the process here.

The dam removal project is projected to be completed in 2014 but habitat restoration efforts will continue for the next five years. During this time biologists and researchers will continue to study the river as it changes and we look forward to seeing salmon populations approach 400,000 once again. 

To learn even more about this incredible project check out the Burke Museum’s newest exhibit based on The Mountaineers book Elwha: A River Reborn.  "Elwha: A River Reborn takes you to the Northwest's legendary Elwha River Valley to discover the people, places, and history behind a remarkable local story--and the largest dam removal project ever undertaken."

The exhibit goes through March 9, 2014.  

Also check out the awesome videos of the project put together by Olympic National Park.