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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
The Elwha Science Education Project, a program to increase local community and student awareness of Elwha Ecosystem Restoration, has been awarded a five-year $1.5 million grant by the National Science Foundation. The project is designed to increase student understanding of earth science, particularly for area tribal youth, using the Elwha restoration project as a living model and laboratory.
“The Elwha Science Education Project is a perfect example of the good that can come when diverse partners work together,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner. “Thanks to close collaboration between the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Olympic Park Institute and the park, and support from area school districts, students will have the chance for hands-on field science, complementing what they learn in school.”
Students from the Crescent, Port Angeles and Sequim school districts will work with educators from the non-profit Olympic Park Institute, both in the classroom and outdoors. In addition, students from the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe will have a unique opportunity to learn about science within the context of their tribe’s culture. Through educational experiences that link the natural and cultural resources of the Elwha watershed, the project will increase the participation of Lower Elwha Klallam and other Peninsula tribal youth in the geosciences.
The project leader is Dr. Rob Young, professor of geosciences at Western Carolina University who has worked extensively on coastal science issues in planning for the Elwha restoration project. “The support from the tribal community for this project has been overwhelming,” said Young. “But what’s really exciting about this project is that it will benefit all the kids of the northern Olympic Peninsula.”
The Elwha River is the largest watershed on the Olympic Peninsula, and prior to construction of two dams in the early 1900s, was home to all five species of Pacific salmon, along with other fish species. Removal of both dams and restoration of the fishery and ecosystem will begin after water treatment facilities are built to protect area water supplies.