Editor’s Note 5/16/16: It has been five years since the removal of the Elwha Dam began. Now, after the world’s largest dam removal, the Elwha is roaring back to life. Sightline is bringing back this popular post in honor of the river’s remarkable ecological recovery.
One thing about freeing the Elwha that’s so exciting is that almost the entire watershed upstream from the Glines Canyon and Elwha dams is protected inside Olympic National Park. It’s perfect salmon habitat: as good as exists anywhere in Cascadia. In most watersheds across the Northwest, dams are just one of many stresses on salmon; in the Elwha watershed, other stresses are minuscule in comparison. The Elwha only has a short, steep stretch that runs between the National Park and saltwater.
(If you haven’t yet, do watch this stunning National Geographic video on the Condit Dam demolition on the White Salmon River.)
Thanks to the National Park Service for permission to use this video.