Yesterday marked a new chapter for the Elwha River and for river restoration efforts all over the world. With the final blast and demolition of the Glines Canyon Dam, the Elwha now flows unimpeded from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains down to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. As the largest dam removal project in the United States, this is an especially significant event. There is a wonderful documentary film that was just completed called Return of the River. They are just beginning to screen the film at festivals and have not reached their funding mark, so if you are interested in contributing to the project or want to help make a screening happen near you, here is a link to the website with information and an exciting trailer clip:
As I hear this news of the Elwha, I recall all the times I spent hiking and playing along the banks as a child, I recall an epic overnight backpacking trip as a young adult when I made it out of Elkhorn Guard Station by 9 AM to meet my college advisor for a tour of my internship site, I recall another summer internship for the Lower Elwha Tribal Hatchery doing riparian restoration work to improve salmon habitat and all the hopeful conversation I heard about the future removal of the dams, I recall a backpacking trip with friends when I played along the banks with my own children, I recall hearing bits of encouraging news about the progression of the dam removal from back home, I recall my first sight of a drained Lake Aldwell and walking out along the free flowing river channels, I recall a hike last spring down to Humes Ranch and Goblins Gate with a friend who runs an eco-tour guide service who showed me a close-up view of the elk and birds along the banks through her spotting scope, and will always recall the feeling I had upon hearing the news of the final blast at Glines Canyon Dam. It was a powerful, overflowing feeling, much like a river spilling over concrete rubble and boulders.
This video of was posted today by one of the film's directores, John Gussman, of the final blast of the Glines Canyon Dam. Although short in duration, it is vast in emotional impact. I must say, it's the best action film I have ever seen in my life.