Elwha fish by the numbers

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — More than 2,600 chinook salmon made it into the river in 2016, according to an estimate the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe provided to Olympic National Park.

That data was collected using sonar units funded through the park.

The run was smaller than others seen throughout the past few years, according to Penny Wagner, park spokeswoman. She said nearly one-fourth of the chinook redds observed last year were upstream of the former Glines Canyon Dam and were predominantly in the former Lake Mills area and in Geyser Valley above Rica Canyon.

One redd was spotted upstream near Godkin Creek, which is almost 36 miles from the river mouth and 23 miles upstream of Glines Canyon.

Last year, crews from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted boulders near the former Glines Canyon Dam and former Elwha Dam sites to help improve fish passage into the headwaters of the river.

Chinook, coho, steelhead, sockeye and bull trout have all ascended the Glines Canyon Dam site since last year’s blasting.

All species, including chinook, coho, steelhead, sockeye, pink, chum, bull trout and Pacific lamprey, have been seen above the former Elwha Dam site.

There’s no plans at this point for more blasting, Wagner said.

During surveys of the upper river in August 2016 and September, crews observed a number of summer steelhead above the Elkhorn Ranger Station and a handful of sockeye spawning in the Lake Mills area, Wagner said.

Data for the 2016 coho survey has not been finalized, but coho were observed spawning in Cat Creek and Boulder Creek above Glines Canyon Dam last year.

The 2017 steelhead run is winding down, and the park does not have an escapement estimate yet, Wagner said. Flows this spring have made redd surveys difficult, she said, adding that steelhead redds have been documented in Geyser Valley and the Lake Mills area.

Fish recolonizing areas upriver of former dam sites on Elwha River