USGS publications explain to scientists and the general public what to expect as the historic removal of two dams from Washington's Elwha River begins what is hoped to be a full ecosystem restoration.
Publications Explain Elwha River Restoration to Scientists, General Public
by Barbara Wilcox
Two new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) publications explain to scientists and the general public what to expect as the historic removal of two dams from Washington's Elwha River begins what is hoped to be a full ecosystem restoration. A staged process expected to take 2 to 3 years, dam removal began in mid-September.
“Elwha River Dam Removal—Rebirth of a River” (USGS Fact Sheet 2011-3097) is a four-page, full-color brochure meant for the general public that explains both why the federal government is removing the dams, which have disrupted natural processes for nearly a century, and also why long-term scientific study of the area is important as the restoration's ecological consequences unfold. With maps, charts, and photographs, the brochure explains how the dams' removal will affect fisheries, vegetation, and the coastal terrain.
Simultaneously, the USGS has released “Coastal Habitats of the Elwha River, Washington—Biological and Physical Patterns and Processes Prior to Dam Removal” (USGS Scientific Investigations Report 5120), which presents the results of 6 years of multidisciplinary studies characterizing the lower Elwha River, its estuary, and coastal habitats in anticipation of dam removal. This nine-chapter report from a multiagency team of biologists, ecologists, hydrologists, river geomorphologists, and coastal geologists offers the most current understanding of Elwha coastal habitats and their predicted changes after dam removal.
Much of the work in the Scientific Investigations Report was presented September 15-16, 2011, at a 2-day Elwha River Science Symposium at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington, preceding the "Celebrate Elwha" event that marked the beginning of the dams' removal.
The Elwha River Restoration Project, created by act of Congress in 1992, aims at the full restoration of the Elwha River ecosystem and the native fish that ascend the river from the sea to breed.