Freeing a River
In the late 1800s a growing nation looked to the Northwest to supply the lumber needed to build new cities.This brought rapid change to the Olympic Peninsula and especially to the Elwha River and the people of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe. In the early 1900s, two dams, Elwha and Glines Canyon, were built on the river. The dams fueled regional growth, but blocked the migration of salmon upstream, disrupted the flow of sediment and wood downstream, and flooded the historic homelands and cultural sites of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
Discover Elwha River Restoration
View a series of webisodes that chronicle the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams. The webisodes begin with the history of the dams and continue through the dam deconstruction and ecosystem restoration process.
Giving Mother Nature a Hand
A major restoration project is underway in the old lake beds. Park botanists and dedicated volunteers have begun the labor intensive task of reestablishing riparian areas by planting more than 400,000 native plants in the newly exposed sediment. Learn more on the Elwha revegetation page.
Today Elwha River salmonids have renewed access to more than 70 river miles of pristine spawning habitat protected within the park. Learn more about anadromous fish in the Elwha, restoration approaches for each individual species, or read the full Elwha River Fish Restoration Plan.
Where the Mountains Feed the Sea
The nearshore environment, where the Elwha River meets the sea is changing in leaps and bounds. With renewed sediment flow, sandy beaches are reappearing and nearshore habitat that once provided rich shellfish beds is reemerging. Learn more on the USGS Elwha Nearshore page.
A River Gone Wild
Meet the Olympic National Park partners that helped free the Elwha River.
This webpage was made possible in part by a grant from Washington's National Park Fund.
Last updated: October 24, 2018