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Steelhead return to Washington Rivers

June 1, 2020

Outside Online, a production of Outside Magazine, has a large file of short films. Longtime blog reader, Carol Prismon-Reed recently brought to our attention one in particular.

What Dam Removals Can Do for a River

Rising from the Ashes, from Trout Unlimited, follows the scientists studying the summer steelhead resurgence in Washington’s Elwha River. Since the removal of the Elwha Dam in 2011 and the Glines Canyon Dam in 2014, these fish are now free to run from the Pacific Ocean up into the Olympic Peninsula.  May 24, 2020.

More videos are listed further down the page.

Nature Finds a Way

There is more purple to be seen on the peninsula!

Riverbank lupine (Lupinus rivularis) is in full bloom around the Elwha watershed right now, and its delightful scent and beauty, aren’t even the best parts about it!

As many of you probably know, the Elwha River is the site of the largest dam removal project in the history of the world. The dams were removed (project completed in 2014) because they created a barrier for migrating fish, blocking them from over 70 miles of their historic habitat.

The dams, built in 1911 and 1927, created reservoirs on land that was previously old-growth forest. Removing the dams drained and exposed the gravelly and sediment-filled lakebeds. The land that was underwater for about 100 years, is now on the path to becoming old-growth forest again. Riverbank lupine is a crucial element to that succession.

Riverbank lupine thrives in areas where many other plants struggle. It can colonize disturbed, nutrient-poor soils due to its nitrogen-fixing abilities. Once the plant dies, the nitrogen is released, nourishing and improving the soil for plants to come.

Finding the right species to revegetate the area after draining the lakes was important not only for improving soil quality, but for preventing erosion, lending shade, and creating habitat for birds and small mammals to facilitate seed dispersal.

The National Park Service Elwha Revegetation team sowed riverbank lupine (seeds collected from the Dungeness River watershed), along with many other native species after Lake Mills was drained. Not sure what to expect, they found the riverbank lupine to be the key in the revegetation effort, helping to set the stage for the remarkable resurgence of life in the resilient Elwha watershed.

If you ever get a chance to visit with these plants, give them a big sniff, enjoy their vibrant colors, and remember the role they are playing in one of the greatest conservation success stories of our time.

(Please note: access to the upper lake-bed in the National Park is still closed due to corona virus restrictions. Lower-lake bed is open and also has fabulous lupine blooms!)

Photo Credit: Deanna Butcher
Upper photo (Former Lake Mills May 2017)
Lower photo (Former Lake Aldwell May 2020)

Have you seen this new short film Rising from the Ashes, from Trout Unlimited? It follows the scientists studying the summer steelhead resurgence in the Elwha.
Click here to watch the video and learn more about fish recovery since the dams were removed!

Support the Dungeness River Audubon Center by clicking below!

Donate Now

Dungeness River Audubon Center

Other video titles on this page include:

Meet California’s Big Tree Hunter
In 1940, the American Forestry Association launched a campaign to locate the largest specimens of American trees. Since then, big-tree enthusiasts like Californian Carl Casey have been on the lookout for what’s defined as champion trees. In this film from director Brian Kelley, alongside the Gathering Growth Foundation, Casey explains what a champion tree is and some strategies he used to find the world’s largest pine tree.

One Man’s Battle Against the Russian Olive
The Russian olive tree is a notorious invasive species around Bears Ears and Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monuments. Since 1999, working along the Escalante River in southern Utah, aging park ranger Bill Wolverton has hacked and chainsawed his way through more than 40 miles of Russian olive trees. Love of Place, from DFS Films, documents his journey to restore his beloved river.

Paragliders Protecting Bearded Vultures
For aerial athletes, it’s not unusual to come across birds while in flight, like the threatened Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier). That’s why French freeflier Pierre Naville and the conservation organization Asters have teamed up with filmmaker Mathieu Le Lay to create this piece and raise awareness about proper flying techniques to mitigate the impact of aerial sports.

Outside’s Adventure page includes titles such as:

The Loneliest Everest Expedition
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, three Chinese teams reached the top of the world.

We Are in the Middle of an Unprecedented Climate Experiment
The pandemic has shut down the most polluting industries around the world and turned us all into more adaptable consumers. That still isn’t enough.

Poke around on Outside Online. There’s lots of other interesting and useful stuff.
[Chuck Almdale]


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