Salmon Return to Washington’s Elwha River for the First Time in 102 Years
The largest dam removal in the U.S. is already paying off in the return of salmon, bears, and other wildlife.
For 102 years, native salmon bumped up against massive concrete hydroelectric dams on Washington state’s Elwha River, stubbornly persisting in their primitive urge to swim upstream and lay their eggs. Last week, that persistence paid off.
Habitat managers spotted Chinook salmon and bull trout in the upper reaches of that river—above the former locations of demolished 108-foot and 210-foot dams that long blocked their path to the spawning ground to which they are hardwired to return.
The arrival of these fish is being celebrated as a promising sign for the return of the river to a fully functioning ecosystem, flowing freely from its source in the Olympic Mountains all the way to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
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