An interagency team of biologists closely monitoring the returns of fish to the Elwha River have determined that the late fall runs of chum salmon have trickled to an end, allowing contractors to begin dam removal work two weeks earlier than projected.
A planned stoppage of sediment-releasing dam removal work has been in place since Nov. 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, Dec. 19, 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 about 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 Dec. 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 (www.nps.gov/olym/) or directly at
Viewing the Elwha Dam removal
Viewing Glines Canyon Dam removal