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PORT ANGELES — The final blast at Glines Canyon Dam is expected to take place today, Olympic National Park has announced.
Crews with Barnard Construction Inc. of Bozeman, Mont., will place the explosives today and set off what may be the last blast of the $325 million Elwha River restoration project, Barb Maynes, spokeswoman for the national park, said Monday.
The detonation is expected to disintegrate the remaining 30 feet of the dam, much of which is covered in sediment.
Olympic National Park areas near the dam are closed to visitors during the blast, which is to take place after preparation work is complete today.
The remaining stub of the once-210-foot dam built in 1927 is located 13 miles from the mouth of the Elwha River.
Crews at the Glines Canyon site will scoop out concrete debris from the river channel to re-establish the original riverbed levels and remove rebar and other items left behind by the blasts.
Concrete from the dam will be trucked to the county road facility on Place Road where it will be pulverized and turned into road base.
Once the dam is gone, the Elwha River will be returned to its wild state.
The Elwha Dam, built more than a century ago 5 miles from the river's mouth, was taken down by March 2011
Fish biologists have said that they expect all five salmon species native to the river will return after the river returns to its natural course.
Currently, the slope from the rapids near the dam are too steep, but once the dam is lowered to the original streambed, a series of resting pools will form along the canyon, enabling the fish to recolonize all 70 miles of river and tributaries.
Maynes said that once the demolition and cleanup is complete, the park will begin working on the abutments on both sides of the dam site, and the park plans to open them as public viewing areas by the end of 2014.
Plans include installing railings for visitor safety and interpretive signs, Maynes said.
After contractors leave, the first public access to the site will be on the east side off Whiskey Bend Road.
People will be able to view the deep canyon and what was once Lake Mills from behind metal railings at the abutment's edge.
After another month or two, Maynes said the park would open the west side of the site via Olympic Hot Springs Road, making for the last opening near the end of the year.
Visitors will then be able to walk roughly 100 feet over the old spillway and gates.