Elwha River Greets Largest Chinook Salmon Run in Over 20 Years

Might or not it’s mentioned that the Elwha River has grow to be the superstar figurehead of the rising pattern of dam elimination in the US? And if not, ought to or not it’s? Since dam elimination efforts started simply over 3 years in the past, the Elwha has present the world a lot of what can occur — and occur rapidly — when impediments in a river are eliminated. The photographs have been dramatic, not solely on the two dam elimination websites, however all the best way to the mouth of the Elwha the place it meets the Pacific Ocean. Most lately, Olympic Nationwide Park officers launched data which signifies that the river is seeing the biggest run of chinook salmon in over 20 years.

In keeping with park officers, “biologists representing Olympic Nationwide Park, Decrease Elwha Klallam Tribe, U.S. Geological Survey, Washington Division of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and NOAA Fisheries navigated over 13 miles of the Elwha River and tributaries with the objective of counting all of the dwelling and useless grownup Chinook and map the spawning salmon’s redds. Biologists walked and snorkeled the river from Glines Canyon Dam to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in addition to the decrease parts of three of the river’s tributaries – Indian Creek, Hughes Creek, and Little River.” Park officers famous that the returns had been “the biggest run of Chinook salmon since 1992”.

Maybe extra necessary is the truth that the outcomes of the survey revealed extra than simply numbers. As well as revealing the Elwha’s largest chinook runs in over 20 years, investigators additionally discovered that the chinook had been “readily transferring into stretches of the river and its tributaries previously blocked by the Elwha Dam.” And, “readily” may not fairly describe their findings precisely. 763 redds had been noticed between the remnants of Glines Canyon Dam and the Elwha’s mouth. Of these 763 redds, over 77 % had been noticed upstream of the previous Elwha Dam web site.

Matt Stoecker of Stoecker Ecological and one of many filmmakers of the upcoming documentary DamNation, famous “watching how rapidly the Elwha River has come again to life following dam elimination has been really inspiring, however not shocking. One 12 months after swimming with chinook that had been banging their heads in opposition to Elwha Dam, we returned to look at them launching by means of the air and swimming proper by means of the bedrock gorge the place the dam as soon as stood. The Elwha, Rogue, White Salmon, Kennebec, Penobscot, and different lately freed rivers present that wild salmon, steelhead, and different migratory fish rapidly return upstream after we get out of the best way.”

Dam elimination efforts are nonetheless underway on the Glines Canyon Dam web site. After delays in 2013, in accordance with Olympic Park officers, dam elimination efforts on the Glines Canyon Dam are “again on monitor” and scheduled for completion in 2014. When accomplished, over 70 miles of unaltered river will — for the primary time in over a century — be open to Elwha salmon and steelhead.

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