Presentation Abstract

After decades of debate, planning, and environmental impact studies, the largest planned dam removal project in history was conducted on the Elwha River in Washington State, USA, from 2011 to 2014. Because this was such a unique and unprecedented project, the planning, implementation, and monitoring has occurred over 30 years and required diverse expertise across multiple stakeholders. This knowledge portfolio required that individuals and organizations with different missions collaborate effectively to ensure a successful project. The story of this river, with rugged headwaters, protected wilderness, legendary and culturally important salmon runs, and two hydroelectric dams whose placement marshaled wholesale socioeconomic and ecological changes, has become an iconic saga of change, perseverance and renewal. The two dams blocked fish migrations and disrupted sediment transport for a century, disrupting the ecological structure and function of the Elwha River. Removal of the 64-m and 32-m tall dams and the release of a large portion of the 21 million cubic meters of stored reservoir sediment, has provided a living laboratory to study the patterns, processes and outcomes of dam removal across freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystem boundaries from multiple scientific perspectives. This collaborative multidisciplinary approach has allowed us to improve our understanding of ecosystem responses and linkages while making the Elwha River one of the best studied dam removal projects.

Session Title

Elwha Ecosystem Restoration: Emerging Lessons from a Comprehensive Project

Keywords

Elwha ecosystem restoration, Elwha river

Conference Track

SSE4: Ecosystem Management, Policy, and Protection

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE4-705

Start Date

4-4-2018 1:30 PM

End Date

4-4-2018 1:45 PM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 4th, 1:30 PM Apr 4th, 1:45 PM

Lessons from Elwha Ecosystem Restoration: Integrating science, policy, and management

After decades of debate, planning, and environmental impact studies, the largest planned dam removal project in history was conducted on the Elwha River in Washington State, USA, from 2011 to 2014. Because this was such a unique and unprecedented project, the planning, implementation, and monitoring has occurred over 30 years and required diverse expertise across multiple stakeholders. This knowledge portfolio required that individuals and organizations with different missions collaborate effectively to ensure a successful project. The story of this river, with rugged headwaters, protected wilderness, legendary and culturally important salmon runs, and two hydroelectric dams whose placement marshaled wholesale socioeconomic and ecological changes, has become an iconic saga of change, perseverance and renewal. The two dams blocked fish migrations and disrupted sediment transport for a century, disrupting the ecological structure and function of the Elwha River. Removal of the 64-m and 32-m tall dams and the release of a large portion of the 21 million cubic meters of stored reservoir sediment, has provided a living laboratory to study the patterns, processes and outcomes of dam removal across freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystem boundaries from multiple scientific perspectives. This collaborative multidisciplinary approach has allowed us to improve our understanding of ecosystem responses and linkages while making the Elwha River one of the best studied dam removal projects.