Hugh Bollinger
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Unplugged

For much of the 20th Century, energy development often meant dam building projects across wild rivers. From Maine to Tennessee to one to many western rivers, barriers to the natural flow of water, fish, and river life went up. Now at the beginning of the 21st, the reverse process may be underway as their removals take place and watershed restoration resumes. The latest example of dams-coming-down will be the structure build across Elwah River in Olympic National Park in Washington. Its destruction has begun with complete removal expected sometime in 2014. [caption id="attachment_6014" align="aligncenter" width="607" caption="Elwha River dam to be removed (credit: file photo)"][/caption] This will be good news for the native Americans who lived and fished along the river for generations as well as the Chinook Salmon that once numbered in the hundreds of thousands before the dam's construction in 1912. The river's indigenous salmon now number ~3000 fish today. [caption id="attachment_6022" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Chinook Salmon (photo credit: Oregon Fish & Game Department)"][/caption] As alternative energy resources, efficiency, and conservation become more common, these old dams carry less value or meaning. If people in the Bay Area of northern California would do the right thing like the restoration of Elwha River, the dam that plugged the Hetch Hetchy Valley-- a companion to Yosemite and whose building is thought to have killed John Muir from sadness --could become the most famous of these relics to be removed. Now that would be one environmental restoration project to celebrate. WHB
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