2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


YOUNG, Robert S., Dept. of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, WINTER, Brian, Olympic National Park, National Park Service, Port Angeles, WA 98362, WARRICK, Jonathan, Coastal and Marine Geology Program, United States Geological Survey, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 and GELFENBAUM, Guy, U. S. Geol Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, MS999, Menlo Park, CA 94025, ryoung@wcu.edu

Prior to 1911, the Elwha River supported 10 stocks of salmon and steelhead. Elwha Dam was built on the Elwha River in 1911 and Glines Canyon Dam in 1925. Neither dam accommodated fish passage limiting anadromous fish to the lower 4.9 miles of the river and severely reducing or eliminating runs. The dams also caused the inundation of important riverine habitat and degraded water quality (increased temperatures and reduced nutrients). The ecosystem within Olympic National Park has been adversely affected by the lack of marine-derived nutrients. In 1992, Congress enacted PL 102-495 directing the Secretary of the Interior to “fully restore the Elwha River ecosystem and anadromous fisheries”. An extended period of examination of many alternatives (2 EISs and a SEIS have been completed) determined that removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams was the only way to fully restore the ecosystem and all fisheries. Today, the project is in full swing with the National Park Service (NPS) as the lead agency and the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) providing technical support. A carefully devised plan for dam removal is scheduled to be implemented in 2008. The Elwha River Restoration Project (ERRP) is arguably the most ambitious river restoration ever attempted. The project is unique and precedent setting many ways: 1) The ERRP has been designed to satisfy the interests of government agencies at all levels, Indian Tribes, local business interests, the dam's previous owners, local water associations, and property owners. There is an overwhelming popular “buy in” to the project at all levels. 2) The ERRP will advance the science of dam removal dramatically. Funds have been provided for USBR guided hydrological and sedimentological modeling, reservoir drawdowns, physical model construction, and numerous other studies. Much more will be learned as the removal plan is implemented. 3) The natural restoration of marine derived nutrients (via salmon carcasses) to an entire watershed from where they have been absent for almost 100 years will provide a unique test of the resiliency of upstream riverine and terrestrial ecosystems. 4) The dam removal will restore the natural flow of sediment to the Strait of Juan de Fuca shoreline. Thus the ERRP adds an important element of coastal restoration unique to this project.