Removing the Elwha Dam

Plans to restore the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state begin with the removal of a dam that's stood for almost a century.
Elwha Dam 1914 by Asahel Curtis

The Elwha Dam after completion in 1914

Photo by Asahel Curtis, courtesy of UW Digital Collections


Video courtesy of MrAlanDurning

The hydroelectric power produced by the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams (completed in the early 1900s) was, at the time, a significant source of electricity for nearby Port Angeles and other small towns in the area.

Unfortunately, they also had a negative effect on the wildlife habitats of the Elwha River.

In September 2011 deconstruction began on the Elwha Dam as part of a three year project to remove both dams and restore the Elwha River to a free-flowing state. By opening up more than 70 miles of the river and its tributaries it is hoped salmon populations will increase dramatically and the ecosystems return to a health they haven't seen in a century.

Read more about the Elwha Dam removal in YES! Magazine's Winter 2012 Issue!

  • The struggle to bring back endangered salmon draws one community into a new commitment to the well-being of its watershed

  • How the tribes of the Klamath River stood up for the salmon—and won.

  • Northwest communities doing the nitty-gritty work of making sustainability happen.