Northwest News Network: Work starts on the Elwha River dam removal

Northwest News Network’s Tom Banse reported on the start of the removal of the two Elwha River dams, the Elwha and Glines Canyon. His story can be heard on KUOW and KPLU. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s river restoration director, Rob Elofson, is interviewed.

From the transcript:

The Lower Elwha Klallam Indian tribe set all this in motion back in 1986. That’s when the tribe challenged the relicensing of 210 foot tall Glines Canyon Dam and the 108-foot tall Elwha Dam. Tribal member Robert Elofson wears the motive on his chest. The words are literally stitched into a logo on his jacket.

Robert Elofson: “It says, We want our dammed salmon back.’ That’s d-a-m-m-e-d.”

Elofson directs the Elwha River Restoration Program for his tribe. He says dam removal will open 70 miles of river and tributary habitat.

Here on the reservation, rumbling convoys of dump trucks signal the decades-long wait to free the river will soon be over. The trucks also drive home what makes dam removal so expensive and complicated. Among other things, contractors are raising levees to protect reservation housing from a less controlled waterway.

Robert Elofson: “The river level will be higher, the groundwater level and the flood levels will be higher. So the levee system has to be modified and expanded.”