Blast leaves only 35 feet of Glines Canyon Dam standing on the Elwha River (* with video *)
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Copyright (c) 2014, John Gussman
This sequence of photos by Sequim photographer John Gussman, who is making a video history of the Elwha River restoration [http://www.elwhafilm.com], shows the Glines Canyon Dam stub before, top left, during and after Sunday's detonation.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Glines Canyon Dam isn't gone yet.

But it's becoming more difficult to spot the remnants under the rubble.

Demolition crews set off about 2,000 pounds of explosives packed into a concrete stub of the formerly 212-foot-tall dam at 5:20 p.m. Sunday.

It reduced it from a height of about 55 feet to about 35 feet.

“It went exactly according to plan,” said Rainey McKenna, spokeswoman for the Olympic National Park.

The blast removed 900 cubic yards of concrete and shifted the river's flow from the eastern side of the canyon to the western side, McKenna said.

The new stub of the dam is about 75 feet wide and more than 20 feet thick at the top, and much of it is buried under concrete rubble, rocks and silt, she said.

(EDITOR'S NOTE — John Gussman, the Sequim-based cinematographer who has been documenting the $325 million Elwha River restoration/dam removal project — has posted a short video on Sunday's blast at Glines Canyon Dam. Click on http://www.elwhafilm.com/bang/ . )

McKenna said the canyon is not yet passable for salmon.

There is still a waterfall preventing salmon from migrating upstream, but it is not as obvious as previous waterfalls.

Red concrete marks the tallest remnant of the dam, seen on the left side of the canyon in webcam photos available on the Olympic National Park website [tinyurl.com/pdn-dams].

The waterfall over the rubber looks flatter than it actually is because of the height of the webcam, McKenna said.

There are only 14 feet remaining of dam wall before demolition crews reach the dam's apron, the hardened concrete slab that anchored the dam.

Once the apron is gone, only the dam's spillway will remain. It will serve as a viewpoint for visitors to see the canyon and valley from about 200 feet above.

Removal of the dam is part of the $325 million Elwha River restoration project, designed to open the 70 miles of river to seven species of Pacific salmon species — chinook, steelhead, chum, coho, sockeye, bull trout and pink — that are or historically have been a part of the river's ecosystem.

The dam is on schedule for full removal by the September deadline, despite delays caused by sediment buildups in water intake filters.

Dam removal work also pauses for “fish windows” to reduce silt in the river that can choke salmon gills.

The next fish window is in May, McKenna said.

Glines Canyon Dam, built in 1927, once held up to 40,500 acre-feet of water in Lake Mills.

The older Elwha Dam, which was located 8 miles north of the Glines Canyon Dam, was removed in 2012.

Lake Aldwell, which once spread behind Elwha Dam, is almost fully replanted.

Once dam removal is complete, fish biologists said they believe Elwha River salmon and steelhead populations could grow to nearly 400,000 returning fish per year.

________

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Freelance photographer John Gussman's website is here: http://www.elwhafilm.com.

Last modified: January 28. 2014 2:27AM
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