Source: The Olympian
Just months after the 108-foot tall Elwha Dam was removed, salmon and steelhead are already returning to the restored habitat.
Part of the restoration process includes releasing tagged fish into the river above the lower dam to jump-start the recolonization of the habitat that has been cut off from migratory salmon for almost 100 years. So far, fish biologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released about 60 steelhead and 600 salmon into the river upstream of the former Elwha Dam. Some of these fish are already spawning, said a NOAA report.
In addition, wild and un-tagged fish have found their own way up the river, meaning they sense the river is open again. While monitoring the river, NOAA scientists spotted several untagged steelhead. One was about 35 inches long, bigger than any of the fish tagged and released.
Since the Elwha was taken down, the Glines Canyon Dam eight miles upriver also has been removed. The Elwha was once home to all five species of Pacific salmon.
In the meantime, park rangers are leading interpretive walks along the Elwha River where Lake Aldwell once existed. The programs are offered Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. through Sept. 2.
Rangers will guide visitors through the new landscape being created by the river following the removal of the Elwha Dam. Walks will provide an up-close look at shifting sediments, old and new vegetation, giant stumps logged a century ago, and the river reestablishing itself.
The walks are free and begin at the former boat launch at the end of Lake Aldwell Road, which turns north off U.S. Highway 101 just west of the Elwha River bridge. Visitors should wear sturdy walking shoes or boots and be prepared for windy conditions with no shade. The guided portion of the walk will last approximately one hour.
For more information about the walks, contact the Elwha Ranger Station at 360-452-9191.
Read more here: Spawning fish already returning to reopened Elwha River habitat - Outdoors - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington news, weather and sports