Blog Post Jennifer Errick Mar 23, 2012

The Elwha River, Free-Flowing at Last

Six months in to the largest dam-removal project in U.S. history, a new video shows promising signs of progress.

In September 2011, the National Park Service kicked off the largest dam-removal project in U.S. history to take down two dams that had been blocking the flow of the Elwha River—and the salmon in it—for decades. NPCA worked for years with numerous partners toward this important victory. Now, six months later, the stunning aerial photo above shows the progress that has already been made on the multi-year project. The lower dam, the Elwha Dam, has already been removed; the dam shown here, the Glines Canyon Dam, is now partly removed, with water flowing freely through it.

To appreciate some of the scope of the project, see the Park Service photo at right of an excavator removing the first few pieces of the Glines Canyon Dam last fall. According to the Park Service, the Elwha began flowing through its native channel for the first time last week in more than a century.

This photo was taken by director and cinematographer John Gussman who has been documenting the community efforts to restore the Elwha River since 2010 for an upcoming film, Return of the River. The trailer for the film shows more compelling footage of the river, the park, the removal of the dams, and the people who have fought for years to see their water, land, and wildlife healthy again–a moving way to spend five minutes of a Friday afternoon.

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