EnergyBiz: Dam breaching benefits Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

"THE U.S. BUREAU OF RECLAMATION this month is expected to begin the largest dam demolition project in the United States - the $324.7 million removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Power Plants on the Elwha River in a protected area of the Olympic National Park in Washington State.

Environmentalists say the move is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to show scientists and environmentalists what can happen when dams are demolished in a protected river with few roads, no other dams and little pollution or development.

"This is a pristine lab that will allow us to study how a river can come back once you take out the dams," said Amy Kober, a spokeswoman for American Rivers in Portland, Ore. She said other dams removed to date have been on rivers that were not protected.

Before the dams were built, the Elwha was home to Chinook salmon that weighed up to 100 pounds and that were critical to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, according to American Rivers. Five species of salmon originally swam in 70 miles of spawning habitat, but the dams reduced the habitat to 4.9 miles. What's more, the dams decimated the salmon runs, cutting salmon numbers from 400,000 to 4,000, the river-protection organization says. That hurt 137 other species that relied on salmon for their diet."

Get the Story:
Feds Poised to Remove Northwest Dam (Energy Biz 9/7)

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