Ecosystem and watershed restoration champions can now point to the largest dam removal project in the U.S. as a spectacular success story and proof of concept.
I (Storm Cunningham) was involved in one step of the early process, and am greatly gratified to see the results.
The ecology of Washington‘s gorgeous Elwha River has been revitalized since the removal of its hydroelectric dam system (which was built illegally by a private industrialist who bribed local officials).
Recent surveys show dramatic recovery, especially in the near shore at the river’s mouth, where the flow of sediment has created favorable habitat for the salmon population.
A new generation of salmon species, some of which are endangered, are now present in the river. Some hope that the restoration of the Elwha River will become a shining example for the removal of the thousands of unnecessary dams that are killing rivers all across the United States.
Photo of one of the two Elwha River dams prior to removal is by Storm Cunningham.