A River Newly Wild and Seriously Muddy

There is hope for the Salmon.  In port Angeles Washington the  Elwha River drains out from Olympic National Park.  This river has been dammed since the early 20th century.  There are two dams on the river that are being torn down.  The first (Elwha dam) was completed in march, the second (Glines Canyon Dam) is still being demolished.  These dams, until now, had kept any salmon from traveling upstream and spawning.  with the destruction of these dams there are literally TONS of silt and sediment that is now flowing down river.  Some are concerned what the effects of the debris will be on animals who have been living in the relatively clear river, but so far there are not any signs of stress.  The currents are spreading the debris out and it is not building up as much as it could.  it is still very likely that all the sediment could change the geography of port Angeles, and possibly alter the course of the river.  The good news is, even with all the particles in the water there have been sightings of wild steelheads heading upriver.  The real test of how the debris  will interfere with the salmon’s new spawning sight will be with the coho salmon.  The coho spawn in the fall when the sediment surges are expected to be worse than they are right now.  Still even with astronomical amounts of debris  flowing down the river experts are hoping it will return to its pristine state in the next few seasons, and even now there is twenty feet of visibility in the river.  This muddy river is the beginning of the return of spawning grounds for salmon that has not been available for over a century.


4 thoughts on “A River Newly Wild and Seriously Muddy”

  1. yay for salmon! Do you know of any other instances where dams were taken out of streams/rivers and how the built up sedement effected the fish? I’m sure its different on a case to case basis but maybe we could take a que from past experiences to see what the long term effects of all the sediment will be.

  2. Have the dams been in place long enough that that salmon will not return. Over time do they go to different rivers if the river they were from is closes up or dammed?

  3. Dam: 0 Fish: 1. We need more projects like this all around the US that restore healthy fish habitats that restore high priority fisheries. This is a great article about the success of the Elwha River restoration.

Leave a Reply