Elwha River Restoration Lesson Plans


The Freeing the Elwha Curriculum is an inquiry and standards based, integrated curriculum designed to guide middle school students in understanding the natural and manmade processes involved in river restoration. The removal of two dams from the Elwha River began September 2011, and is historic as it is the biggest dam removal project in the world. The Elwha River flows through the beautiful Olympic National Park, in Washington, and is unique in having been largely protected from adverse human impacts. When the dams come out, the Elwha River will once again host its famous salmon runs. The curriculum focuses on this historic event.

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Science Lesson Plans


Leads students from how weather affects water flow, through the habitat needs of salmon and the process of dam removal, to the state of the world's fisheries.
Lesson Plans
Social Studies Lesson Plans

Social Studies

Moves from the settlement of the Elwha and its surroundings, through issues involved in dam removal, ending with the importance of salmon to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
Lesson Plans
Creative Response Lesson Plans

Creative Response

Gives students a chance to express themselves artistically.
Lesson Plans
Math, language arts, and assessments fall naturally within the science and social studies units.

Handouts and grading rubrics are included. The curriculum is flexible and educators can adapt the lessons depending on grade level requirements. Lessons can be taught individually or as part of the whole unit. Our goal is to provide educators with everything they need to use and enjoy this curriculum in the classroom while students are enriched and challenged.


This webpage was made possible in part by a grant from Washington's National Park Fund.

Last updated: April 6, 2015

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