New York Times: Elwha River dams demolition a model for other river restoration projects

The New York Times paid a visit to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe recently to learn more about the fish-blocking Elwha River dams that will be deconstructed starting this fall.  The article also explores the other massive dam removal projects proposed around the country.

From the article:

 The reservation will also be protected by a levee that has been raised, widened and fortified with rocks as large as four feet across because the sediment flowing downstream will raise the level of the freed Elwha. The tribe wants all of this, but after a century of living with a tamed river and adapting as development increased on the peninsula, there is also concern.

“What worries me is that the river’s going to be unpredictable after they take the dams out,” said Ron Boulstrom, 46, a lifelong resident of the reservation and a commercial fisherman. “Four more years and I’ll have my house paid off, and I’m making a nice new garage. Hopefully the river won’t take me out.”

Then again, according to tribal lore, the tribe’s creation site was flooded by the dams. And there are the Chinook, also called king salmon, remembered in stories told from generation to generation, but now too depleted to fish.

“Back in the day, we had this whole place, the hills, the mountains,” Mr. Boulstrom said. “I’d like to catch another king out of the Elwha in my lifetime.”