In the last few years big hoopla has drawn interest of reporters to a remote stretch of Washington State forest to chronicle plans for, and actual demolition of, two old dams that had shut off migratory salmon and steelhead from age-old spawning grounds (see posts from Mar 8, 2007, May 13, 2009, and Sept 20, 2011 ).
In today's New York Times readers, some of whom may recall earlier coverage, go with writer Kirk Johnson for a look at how things are going now that one of the dams, the Elwha named after the river it bocked is gone and workers are about done knocking apart the larger Glines Dam upstream. The result is release of the heavy layer of sediments that had built up behind them in the last 100 years or so. So far, so ugly. At least the dammed rivers ran clear, something that most of us casual river visitors would regard as pretty. He calls the now-freed goop from the reservoir bottoms a "mind-boggingly large surge." It is the biggest such 'earth-load' in the history of dam demolition, he reports. The river is now a silt-laden corridor of murk, with most of the pent-up load still to go. Yet already a few steelhead - rainbow trout that have taken up the ocean-going ways of their close kin, the various species of Pacfic salmon - have battled their ways through the gloom, past the fully broken lower, Elwha dam and into clear spawning ground upstream.
The NYT piece drew the eye. The in turn reveals that he's not the first NYTimes man to pay attention recently. At his Opinonator blog on July 26 Timothy Egan called the project a miracle. These two are in no way the only reporters to give it new attention.
- Seattle Times - Lynda V. Mapes (July 31) : The underwater world of the Elwha: a new ecosytem takes shape ; A blogpost off a visit with divers working the river's outlet to the sea. Heavy photo illus plus a US Geological Survey slide show and video. Mapes also provided text for a recent gallery of photos of the dam-removal sequence. Some are spectacular.
- AP - Phuong Le (July 11) With 1 of 2 dams down, fish return t the Elwha River ;
- Sequim Gazette (July 12) Ranger-guided Elwha walks begin Saturday ;
- The Columbian (editorial) In Our View: Restoring Two Rivers ; Its opinion is a thumbs up.
- Peninsula Daily (Jul 28) Keith Thorpe: Divers literally look into silt coming out of mouth of freed Elwha River ;
- Charlie Petit