Olympic National Park: Fish continue to recolonize Elwha watershed

Biologists say adult chinook salmon, sockeye salmon, steelhead and bull trout have been spotted in the upper stretches of the river.

PORT ANGELES — Adult chinook salmon, sockeye salmon, steelhead and bull trout were spotted in the upper Elwha River last month, the latest evidence of post-dam removal recolonization, fisheries biologists said.

Recent monitoring has revealed that the fish have passed upstream through the former Elwha and Glines Canyon dam sites, Olympic National Park officials said.

The observation is based on snorkel surveys that spotted fish but did not show the numbers that are swimming above the former dam sites.

“We are thrilled to see this latest confirmation of the success and value of dam removal,” acting park Superintendent Rachel Spector said in a Thursday news release.

“As restoration proceeds, the benefits continue to mount along the entire river and throughout its entire ecosystem.”

The National Park Service led a $325 million effort to restore the Elwha River to its natural state with the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams.

The fish-blocking dams were gone by 2014.

Snorkel survey

An early-August snorkel survey between Rica and Glines Canyons — upstream from both dam sites — revealed five adult chinook, one steelhead and 10 adult sockeye salmon, park officials said.

Biologists watched as two sockeye pairs dug nests, or redds, near the mouth of Boulder Creek in the former bed of Lake Mills, the reservoir created by the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam.

Later in August, another snorkel survey between the Hayes River confluence and the Elkhorn Ranger Station revealed chinook, summer steelhead and bull trout, park officials said.

Biologists also use radio telemetry to track and monitor fish throughout the watershed. Fish are tagged in the lower Elwha River with a small radio transmitter, which emits radio signals detected by fixed antennas.

Using this method, scientists tracked an 18-inch bull trout from near the river mouth to a site 29 miles upstream near the Goldie River.

The signal also showed that the fish traveled 16 miles from Glines Canyon to the Goldie confluence in two weeks, officials said.

Contractors last fall demolished 14 large boulders that were part of a rockfall that occurred after constriction of the Glines Canyon Dam.

After dam removal, sediment and debris moved downstream and accumulated above the rockfall, creating a barrier to upstream fish passage.

“These observations indicate that last year’s rockfall demolition was effective in improving fish passage through Glines Canyon,” Spector said.

Later this month, biologists will use redd surveys and environmental DNA to assess chinook salmon recolonization and spawning in 40 miles of the river.

Biologists have also observed adult pink, coho and chum salmon and Pacific lamprey upstream of the former Elwha Dam site five miles from the river mouth, officials said.

Monitoring of the Elwha ecosystem is a joint effort of Olympic National Park, the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For information on the ongoing restoration of the Elwha River, click on http://go.nps.gov/elwha.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Finalists for the 2023 Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber Commerce’s Citizen of the Year award include, front row, from left, Carol Labbe and Pauline Olsen. Not pictured is the award recipient, Renne Emiko Brock, who was unable to attend the chamber’s annual awards luncheon on Tuesday. Pictured with Labbe and Olsen are, back row, from left, chamber President Eran Kennedy, chamber Executive Director Beth Pratt and Lorie Fazio, Citizen of the Year committee chair. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Art advocate Brock named Sequim Citizen of Year

Labbe, Olsen finalists for town’s top civic award

Lena Curtis guides a snow sled with her two children, Lucien Williams, 4 1/2, and Millie, 2, all from Port Townsend, down a snow hill at Port Townsend High School on Tuesday. An overnight storm passed through but not before depositing about 3 inches of soft powder, which melted rapidly as the day warmed. The blast of snowfall was largely confined to the area around Port Townsend and Port Hadlock overnight into Tuesday morning on the North Olympic Peninsula. Another weather system was coming in on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to drop rain in the lowlands and snow in the mountains on Wednesday and early Thursday, according to meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch with the National Weather Service in Seattle. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Downhill sledding

Lena Curtis guides a snow sled with her two children, Lucien Williams,… Continue reading

waddell
Clallam PUD seeks replacement for Waddell

Applicants for the Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner seat… Continue reading

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe celebrates library opening

Chairman/CEO: New facility is ‘second to none’

Solar array, battery storage to be installed on Port Angeles Senior Center

System could provide hours of backup power in case of an outage

UPDATE: Power restored between Sequim, Port Angeles

A tree has been removed from a Clallam County PUD… Continue reading

Road work to close Quinault Loop

Work crews from Haztech Drilling will begin geotechnical drilling… Continue reading

Fiber gathering Thursday at Studio Bob

Marva Holmes will host “St*tch & B*tch” at 4:30… Continue reading

Dream Playground to be fully covered by insurance

Donations still will be used in May rebuild

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual Shipwrights Regatta on Port Townsend Bay on Saturday. More of a fun event than a sailing competition, awards are given out during a pizza party afterward for the most navigationally challenged (Directional Helmet trophy) and for the “saltiest” boat and crew. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Shipwrights Regatta

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual… Continue reading

The City of Sequim hosts 13 manufactured home/mobile home parks with 596 existing units and 786 approved dwelling units. City staff continue to look into zoning options that could protect these sites from redevelopment to help protect affordable housing options in the city. (City of Sequim)
Sequim extends its mobile home moratorium

City staff to work preserving manufactured housing option