Opinion: Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe fought for removal of dams

"It doesn’t take long to find a miracle in the newly released Elwha River, focus of the largest dam removal project in American history — the Berlin Wall of environmental restoration. When wrecking crews started whacking away at the Elwha Dam last September, it was projected to take two, or even three years to bring it down.

It defies experience-hardened cynicism whenever any big public works project is under budget and ahead of schedule. But the Elwha has served up something even better: life itself, in the form of ocean-going fish answering to the imperatives of love and death. Not long ago, scientists were stunned to find wild steelhead trout scouting habitat well past the site where the Elwha Dam had stood for nearly a century. They didn’t expect fish to return this soon.

The dams choked off one of the greatest salmon bounties in the United States. They were built to service a pulp mill, and once the mill outlived its purpose, the Indians of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe began to dream of big Chinook, some up to 80 pounds, coming back to a river wild once again — a ghost dance, in its way. After an initial act of Congress authorized dam removal in 1992, it took two decades of persistence by the tribe, the National Park Service and lovers of wild land and feisty fish to guide the $325 million project through much turbulence."

Get the Story:
Timothy Egan: Biological Boomerang (The New York Times 7/27)

Related Stories:
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe finds quick return of salmon to river (7/12)
KUOW: Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe works to restore salmon runs (06/05)
Editorial: Temporary truce with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (03/06)
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to decommission old fish hatchery (02/06)
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe working to restore salmon runs (01/30)
Alternet: Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe welcomes removal of dams (01/05)

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