Skip to main content

Go Fish, Washington! Elwha River Dam Removal is Paying Off

elwha river
Wikipedia

More fish are making it upstream on the Elwha River in Washington this fall, thanks to the removal of two dams.

Scientists have seen significant numbers of sockeye and Chinook salmon, plus bull trout, since the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams on the river.

Surveys from the end of July through the end of September show around 70 Chinook made it upstream.

During the 2015 migration period, scientists observed only one Chinook past the Glines dam site.

The Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were constructed in the early 1900s to provide power for Port Angeles and the Olympic Peninsula.

By 2011, only one customer remained for the dams’ power, a pulp mill in Port Angeles. Everyone else had been shifted to the public power grid.

In 2011, the first stages of removal began with a $325 million federal dam removal project. In 2014, the final piece, the Glines Canyon Dam, came down.

However, boulders from the dam removal still blocked fish migration.

So, last fall, 14 boulders were demolished. Another six were removed this summer. Now, officials say that fish are returning both above and below the dam sites.

Besides Chinook, officials have seen 60 redds (returning Chinook), 47 bull trout, and a dozen steelhead past the dam site in the Elwha River.

According to officials, the goal of the project is to restore the entire watershed, the majority of which is in Olympic National Park.

Removing the two dams restored some 70 miles of salmon spawning habitat, say scientists.

NEXT: DYING TO GO COHO FISHING ON THE SKAGIT IN WA? NOW YOU CAN

you might also like

Go Fish, Washington! Elwha River Dam Removal is Paying Off