Environmental Protection

Largest Dam Removal in History Already Restoring River’s Health

With only 35 feet left to remove of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River in Washington, the river is already showing great progress with fish and native plants returning to the area.

The removal of the Glines Canyon Dam, once standing at a towering 210 feet tall, marks the largest in U.S. history and is nearly complete. The removal project began in 2011 and the area is already beginning to see great progress and the return of several fish species as well as native plant life.

“The story of the Elwha is: We can do it. We can overcome a century of harm. We can work together. We can restore a river. We can show our grandchildren what commitment, responsibility, and stewardship look like. We can be the beneficiaries of an abundance of riches that flow from a river that runs free,” said Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers.

“The Elwha provides the most high-profile proof that dam removal works. On the Elwha, we are witnessing on a grand scale that rivers are ready to come back to life if we just give them a chance.”

With the complete removal of the dam and the restoration of the Elwha River, fish populations should reach 400,000 within the next few decades. Native grasses, shrubs, and trees have been planted by volunteers and are already thriving. Sediment that was once blocked in the reservoirs has traveled downstream, helping create habitats and restoring the beach.

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