Salmon swimming past old dam site on Elwha River

Olympic National Park reported this week that its biologists have seen adult chinook salmon swimming two miles upstream from the park’s boundary in the Elwha River, above the old Elwha Dam site.

This comes two months after steelhead were seen swimming just above the old dam site by Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries biologists.

“Observation of these Chinook in Olympic National Park is a wonderful addition to the naturally returning steelhead recently observed by NOAA Fisheries and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe downstream of the park boundary,” said Olympic National Park Fisheries Biologist, Sam Brenkman.”We can now say that restoration of anadromous salmon in Olympic National Park is underway.”

Since 1913, fish that returned to the Elwha River were blocked from 70 miles of river habitat by the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, restricting them to the first five miles of the river. In September 2011, deconstruction of the dams started, with the Elwha Dam being fully removed by March 2012. Glines Canyon Dam is expected to be removed by summer 2013.