Chinook Salmon Return After Dam Removal

Restored king salmon run officially underway on Elwha River, Olympic National Park, Washington



Courtesy NOAA

Migrating Chinook salmon have recently been spotted in Olympic National Park less than five months after the removal of the Elwha Dam on the Olympic Penisula in Washington. This is good news for anglers as it heralds a return of the regular salmon run on the Elwha River, a critical fish spawning ground.

Steelhead have already been returning to the river since early summer.

The removal of the Elwha Dam is a key component of one of the biggest river restoration projects in history and took two decades to become a reality through the persistence of local tribes, the National Park Service and concerned citizens. When the dam first became operational in 1913, it blocked over 70 miles of salmon habitat.

"Observation of these Chinook in Olympic National Park is a wonderful addition to the naturally returning steelhead recently observed by NOAA Fisheries and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe downstream of the park boundary," said Olympic National Park Fisheries Biologist, Sam Brenkman. "We can now say that restoration of anadromous salmon in Olympic National Park is underway."