Call it a mix of good news and bad news. On the upside, contractors removing dams along the Elwha River at Olympic National Park are getting a two-week head start on the work. The downside is that that early start is made possible by the end of chum salmon runs up the river.
Park officials say a planned stoppage of sediment-releasing dam removal work has been in place since November 1 to protect fish runs in the river. There are three such work stoppages, also known as “fish windows” throughout the year.
Adult chum salmon were collected and transferred to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s fish hatchery, which is acting as a clear-water refuge during the dam removal period when extensive sediment is being released into the river. Offspring of the collected chum will be released into the river this spring.
Dam removal contractor Barnard Construction, Inc. has adjusted its work schedule and will be ready on Monday to begin dam demolition again.
Plans for next week at Elwha Dam include diverting the river back into the right channel (looking downstream) and beginning another reservoir drawdown, increasing flows by approximately 150 cubic feet per second.
At Glines Canyon Dam, crews will reassemble the barge and excavator-mounted hydraulic hammer and complete modifications to the onsite crane, with dam demolition work scheduled to begin on December 27.
Although access to the actual demolition sites is not allowed, options exist for interested people to watch the process of dam removal.
Six webcams, available through the Olympic National Park website (http://www.nps.gov/olym/) or directly at http://www.video-monitoring.com/construction/olympic/js.htm provide updated images throughout daylight hours.
Viewing Elwha Dam Removal
Removal work at Elwha Dam can be also be viewed via a short overlook trail that leads from a trailhead parking area just off Lower Dam Road to a viewing location above the dam.
Viewing Glines Canyon Dam Removal
Because of public safety and site security concerns, there is currently no public viewing of the Glines Canyon Dam removal process except via webcam. Olympic National Park is working to provide public viewing opportunities for the Glines Canyon dam by summer 2012.