It's been a year since I last took a houseguest to visit the dams which are leaving, freeing the Elwha. The run-up has been ongoing and slow—whether you count the decades of political struggle, or the several recent years of major prep: water works, greenhouses raising native plants in vast numbers to plant out in the naked former lakebeds, new hatchery on the rez, new diking on the rez (as they are at risk of flooding when all the sediment now behind the dams raises the river bed several feet), road work, experiments in drawing down the lakes, baseline science along the river and in the nearshore part of the Strait, and all.
Salmon, come home.
This is a huge big deal, the largest dam removal/ river restoration project ever. Now we are having a long tedious run-up to the official dambusting ceremonies being staged by the Park and many local and national stakeholders later this month. It's hard to care about gala dinners and rock concerts and invitation-only bigwig ceremonials at the lower dam because in fact NO ACTUAL WORK WILL BE BEING DONE to mark the moment, not even symbolically. Meanwhile you can no longer get anywhere near either dam, and I simply didn't notice when the long-term road closures meant I'd missed a last chance to take a set of 'before' photos, not that I don't have plenty...
Then on Sunday the newspaper said, "A 200-foot crane, the largest piece of machinery planned for the removal of the two Elwha River dams, was being installed last week at Glines Canyon Dam. The 4100 Crane will be used in tearing down the 210-foot structure beginning Sept. 15." Aha. The real work will have already begun on the upper dam a few days before the bigwigs foregather at the lower dam. OK, then.
The other thing the paper said was that a new public viewpoint had been established overlooking Elwha Dam, the lower dam. So I went and looked. Not a whole lot to see unless they take down some trees (which why would they, this is a restoration project, not a further-depredation project). But there it is,
and three years of careful work from now it will be gone, and the river running free.
Salmon, come home. This is all for you. Salmon, come home.