Power from Elwha River dams shut off

The Peninsula Daily News, Seattle Times and Associated Press reported on Wednesday’s historic shut down of the Elwha River’s two dams, the Elwha and Glines Canyon, in preparation for the beginning of the deconstruction of the dams this fall. The hydroelectric power generated by the river and the dams provided electricity to the Port Angeles and surrounding area for nearly a century.


From the Associated Press, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe river restoration director Robert Elofson:

The fish are particularly important to members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, whose ancestors have occupied the Elwha Valley for generations and whose members recall stories of 100-pound Chinook salmon so plentiful you could walk across the river on their backs.

“We have never been happy that the salmon runs in the river were cut off,” said Robert Elofson, Elwha River restoration director for the tribe, which along with environmental groups fought in the 1980s to tear down the dams. The tribe’s land now includes about 1,000 acres on and near the Elwha River. “It’s hard to have any pride when your main river of your tribe has been blocked and the salmon runs almost totally destroyed.”


From the Seattle Times, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe elder Adeline Smith:

But the shutdown is a step some wondered if they would ever witness. Adeline Smith, 93, one of the oldest members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, said she remembered rescuing baby salmon stranded in pools when operation of the dams would ramp the river levels up and down.

“We felt sorry for them,” she said of the gasping smolts.