Josh Chenoweth, Vegetation

Josh Chenoweth, Olympic National Park. His crew is replanting the reservoirs to recreate as a natural forest for salmon.

There has been no dam removal project to date this large, with this much sediment, so we don’t have much to go on in regards to revegetation success.

The plan for revegetation includes a seven year installation plan and more than 400,00 plants and more than 7,000 lbs of seed to sow with a six year monitoring plan. Continue reading

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Mike McHenry, Fisheries

Mike McHenry, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

Five years ago we struggled to try and figure out the fish question but we’ve come a long way and a lot of great work is going on.

My talk will focus on techniques we’re using to get at fish coming in and fish coming out, some of which haven’t really been used in Washington before. Also, I’ll give a species update. Continue reading

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Guy Gelfenbaum, Coastal Geomorphology

Guy Gelfenbaum, USGS

So what happens when the sediment gets to the coast or in our case, the Strait of Juan de Fuca – that’s our job to figure that out. Where will the sediment go? What process are important? How will habitat be modified?

Objectives include developing baseline conditions, impacts caused by the dams, develop models of expected response and track changes during restoration.

History of the shoreline changes – significant erosion of the east side of the river delta but not so much on the west side of the delta. Because of the dams in place, there has been a lack of sediment to flow out to the delta and naturally build the beaches.

Prior to construction of dams, there was a lot of sandy beaches, which are important to things like clams. Now, it’s very cobble-like and poor habitat. Continue reading

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George Pess, river geomorphology

George Pess, NOAA

The size and timing of the sediment behind the reservoirs released influences where sediment accumulates in the Elwha.

How will that alter the fish habitat in the river system?

In short term – lots of suspended of sediment and deposits of sand and gravel. We may see the gravel beds increase over time.

Long term – transported coarse sediment and wood

How long will it take to affect the Elwha River habitat? Today, there are daily changes with suspended sediment. In months and years will see sand deposits in pools and slower water habitats. In the long term, over decades, coarser sediment deposits are expected. Continue reading

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Tim Randle, Sediment

Tim Randle, Bureau of Reclamation

2010 Reservior sedimentation: 24 million cubic yards, consisting of sand, gravel and clay.

Scientists are getting a good idea of what the river was made up of before the reserviors were created.

These are the largest dams ever removed in US history. Lake Aldwell has the largest sediment volume associated with a dam removal.

Objective of sediment management was to figure out how much of the sediment would get out of the reserviors. Various schemes were explored to figure out how to get rid of it, but scientists figured to let the river take care of it first, but do it as controlled as possible. Continue reading

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Engineering/Dam Removal – Barnard Construction Co.

Dan and Aaron from Barnard Construction are giving an update on the deconstruction of the dams, starting with the Elwha Dam.

The Elwha Dam included a gravity dam, penstock, powerhouse and floodgates, plus a walkway allowing workers to walk across the dam. The logboom kept logs out that would come through at  high water, which would be sent through the floodgates so not to block up flow.

On Sept. 19, 2011, an excavator with a hydrolic hammer came in and starting hammering away at the structure. They started on the east side of the dam (right spillway). They were creating a spot to divert the water to help with deconstruction. Another diversion was created later, using rocks and concrete to control the water flow from the reservoir.

An overhead shot shows the railcart bridge that allowed access for construction workers to various parts of the dam while working around water channels.

Left spillway (west side) were hammered away, with debris being put into trucks that hauled it all away.

Once all the piers and gates were removed, there was a concrete base to work on, which they blasted away and also to use later as another diversion channel.  Nine total diversions were created back and forth across the old dam to get the water level down so could work on dam removal.

Powerhouse was gutted and then the structure was removed. Search tank was taken down and removed. Powerhouse was finally removed, and the reservior elevation was down to 140 feet. After riprap was placed where the powerhouse used to be, crews started rebuilding the area as a hillside.

March 9, gravity dam demoiltion was completed. The coffer dam was removed and the river was able to flow through its original channel. Crews continued to excavate the channel to help rebuild the hillside.

Today, where the dam used to be is a large hillside covered in straw for erosion protection.

Glines Dam Canyon update:

Used to be: Arch dam, left spillway, thrustlock, intake from the reservoir to the gatehouse through the hill and turned into a penstock and to the surge tower and to the powerhouse.

At Glines, started with a excavator on a barge hammering on the wall, breaking off concrete and let it fall to the toe of the dam.

Excavator working on dam, the crews had to navigate around rocks, logs and other parts of the dam structure.

Water had to go through the spillway before crews had the dam lowered enough to send water through the deconstructed part of the arch dam. Water were passed through notches created in the dam.

First drilling and blasting scenario was in the snow.

Powerhouse demolition included gutting the innards, with major equipment used to take apart the insides. Equipment and hardware and transmissions were recycled. A few items were donated to local museums, but anything with monetary value was recycled.

Aug 1, 2012 – started the fish window, so blasting has been put on hold until end of September.

Question: How does this compare to other projects you do?

THis is our first entire dam removal we’ve done. We’re usually doing dam modifications.

From the Internet: What’s happening to the dam rubble being removed? Being sent to a gravel pit, where it will be crushed and used as road material.






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Introduction: Jeff Duda, USGS

This is day 3 of the symposium, with a lot of conversation taking place already through presentations and field trips out to the restoration sites.

Back in 1992 is when Congress passed the act to allow the effort to start; work didn’t start until September 2011. Dam removal is becoming more and more common in the US. Elwha is unique because simultanous removal of two dams, one of which is in Olympic National Park.

People from all over the world have been following this project – through web cams, visiting the outlooks sites to watch the dam removal work. People have pondered what this place is going to look like in 5, 10, 100 years.

Folks are visiting former Lake Aldwell… sediment is being released down into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and showing a contrast of fresh and salt water.

Salmon and steelhead have been returning already to the river, reaching undammed portions of the river. It’s important to think about what is going on and why it’s important.

As a scientist, I’m paid to not only wonder what the future is going to be like, but our task is to think what information is going to be of value in 5, 10, 100 years. We’re trying to establish a legacy so the next generation has a foundation to help continue to tell this story of the Elwha River Restoration. is a link to go and check out all the work and information available about the work done on the Elwha River.





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Elwha Science Symposium 2012

As part of the four-day symposium on the science behind the ongoing Elwha River Restoration project and dam removal, several of the scientists involved in the project are doing a public presentation at Peninsula College this morning.

NWIFC will be live blogging from the presentation. The morning session will also be broadcast online at Folks watching from their computers can participate as well.

Here’s the lineup for this morning:


9:00 – 9:15 Introduction and Project Overview (Jeff Duda)
9:15 – 10:45 10-minute presentations by Panelists with a focus on representing the breadth of work in their discipline

  • 9:15 – 9:30       Brian Krohmer (Dam Removal/Engineering)
  • 9:30 – 9:45       Tim Randle (Reservoir/River)
  • 9:45 – 10:00     George Pess (River Geomorphology)
  • 10:00 – 10:15   Guy Gelfenbaum (Coastal Geomorphology)
  • 10:15 – 10:30   Mike McHenry (Ecology/Fish)
  • 10:30 – 10:45   Josh Chenoweth (Vegetation)
10:45 – 11:30 Questions to panel from the live and on-line audience
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Morning Speaker: Rob Young

Dr. Rob Young, Director of Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines and coastal sedimentologist, received a $1.5 M grant from the National Science Foundation in 2007 to bring youth and science together in studying the effects of the dam removal.  The grant couples middle school students from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe with educators from the Olympic Park Institute .  The project also links science with cultural components of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe who had historically used the Elwha River basin for fishing salmon.

The Elwha Dam Removal project meets what an ecological restoration should be. Good restoration should return the ecosystem to its historic trajectory. It should be sustainable over the long term. The restoration should be resilient.

Restoration should include restoring traditional uses of the area by indigenous peoples. Ecological restoration is also cultural restoration, as is the case here. Continue reading

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Morning Speaker: Dick Goin

Dick Goin, a lifelong resident of the Olympic Peninsula, shared his experiences of fishing the Elwha River. With a record catch of more than 7,000 steelhead during his lifetime, he started fishing the river in 1938 when he was 6.

The depression that started in 1929 didn’t end until ’42. Many, like Goin’s family – lived off the land. The deer were already eaten by folks who lived down there. So the family subsisted harvested off salmon, which were easy to come by.

Goin befriended a Charles from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and they would paddle out to the estuary. Goin typically stayed in the estuary, but he watched tribal people head out to the Strait and harvest halibut and lingcod.

“When tide came in the right time of the year, you could watch that bottom (of the estuary) turn grey with salmon.” Continue reading

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