Now that both dams have been removed, the river must detox itself from 100 years worth of trapped sediment & woody debris. We must appreciate this ‘ugly stage’ the river is going through in order to fully appreciate and enjoy the future Elwha River.
Every river in the world that has a dam on it has changed the natural environment for better or worse. The benefits of low-cost hydropower come with high cost effects to the natural environment.
Nature has a way of perfection, a way that man cannot mirror.
Once again these nutrients can travel to the Elwha Valley & the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
Prior to dam removal the Elwha’s pristine beauty brought many to experience the river, the glacial greenish blue color of the river was ever so impressive and will one day return to its former glory, a side of the Elwha River no person alive has ever experienced. Above the dams, the river remains natural and beautiful.
Thousands experienced the Elwha prior to dam removal but only a handful of people have experienced a free-flowing Elwha River. Since dam removal began, this predictable Class II section & the river as a whole, has morphed into an ever-changing, shifting, & shaping life form, the way the river should be, Wild & Free!
During high water flows we see the little river come alive, creating unstable banks, carrying wood and sediment, the natural process of a free-flowing river has returned to the Elwha.
A common phrase that I have heard from anti dam removal activists is that “They killed the river…” when in truth the river is more alive than ever before.
Although locals and tourists got to experience & create memories on two pristine reservoirs & a predictable Class II river section, below the surface of these memory makers was a death trap for the pure things that many live here for.
Unfortunately, what most have failed to mention is the a fact that we are going to have 100 years worth of human debris to clean up as well, there has been no money set aside for this and instead of playing the blame game, we have started the ongoing process of the cleaning it up. If we can get a little trash out of the river everyday, we can help speed up the restoration and keep the trash from making it into the beautiful Salish Sea.
The river has been in a constant flood stage due to the release of sediment and the amount of woody debris, the thickness of the sediment being released in the water makes the Elwha look like a mud colored snake winding through the valley.
The only way to truly experience the dam removal is to be on the river. With a bias opinion we say this; you cannot experience this river without being apart of it, in with it, alive with it…as most sit back to see what happens, we want to make it possible to experience what has and is happening.
A picture is worth 1000 words but an experience on the Elwha River is worth a lifetime.