Glines Canyon Dam
Early in the removal process of the Glines Canyon Dam (September 2011).

According to a report filed in The Peninsula Daily, efforts to restore the Elwha River's legendary salmon runs are ahead of schedule. Robert Elofson, director of the Lower Elwha ­Klallam River Restoration, detailed the current status of restoration efforts and expectations for the future in a presentation entitled, "Elwha River Ecosystem: After the Dam", which was delivered last night at the Elwha Klallam Heritage Training Center. The long awaited dam removal project began earlier this year.

Only a few thousand salmon have returned thus far, but the dam removal project is still underway, with both dams scheduled for complete removal by early 2014. Earlier this week, an explosion brought down an additional 6 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam. Work on dam removal has just recently begun after a period of work stoppage to allow for a period of fish migration.

As sediment levels in the river return to normal, a process that is expected to take three to seven years, more and more fish should return to help reestablish the Elwah's once mighty runs. Elofson indicated that expectations include the return of some 300,000 to 400,000 salmon to the Elwah River.

The presentation also included information about the new $16.4 million Lower Elwha Klallam tribe fish hatchery, including details about how this hatchery and the Department of Fish and Wildlife rearing channel will help to protect fish from potentially lethal sediment levels as the river returns to its natural state.

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