Following the removal of both dams on the Elwha River (2011-2014) the river, watershed, estuary and delta are in the process of being freed and restored. This comes after 100 years of being a dammed watershed, and decades of dedicated and relentless work to remove the dams. I myself had worked on the project for six months during the summer season of 2001, mapping non-native populations of plant species along the Elwha River banks and lake shores. It was really special to be able to walk out on the newly reborn Elwha delta today with tribal member Robert Elofson as our guide this morning.
In the afternoon Rob took us to visit the canyon of the old Lower Elwha Dam. The remaining work on site currently includes removing some dangerous remaining rebar projections. Afterwards we went down into the old lake bed of what was Lake Aldwell. There was evidence of 19th century logged old growth trees, as well as the new native vegetation restoration efforts. It’s going well: the salmon are returning and the populations are swelling; the link between marine nutrients flowing up into the mountains and the sediment of the mountains returning the favor is being restored.