I just got an email from Tim Randle, manager of the sedimentation and river hydraulics group at the Denver Office of Bureau of Reclamation, which is leading the management of the sediment out of the Elwha. In it, he warned that as the Elwha kicks back to life it can be quite hazardous. It’s moving a lot of logs, sawing its way through thick layers of unstable sediment, and right now is so cloudy with sediment that it’s impossible to see underwater.
Unstable cliffs of sediment such a these along the Elwha River where Lake Aldwell used to be are captivating to look at and photograph — but also potentially hazardous.
Lynda Mapes photo, March 2011
So if you visit, do it with a good measure of caution and common sense.
“I did want to make you and the public aware that the Elwha River through Lake Aldwell and Lake Mills is extremely hazardous to the public right now with logs, rapidly changing conditions, sudden stream bank collapses, and virtually no visibility under the water. No one should be in the river through the deltas right now and people visiting the deltas by foot should stay away from the stream banks adjacent to the fast moving water of the Elwha River. These hazards will lessen with time, but people need to be patient right now and respect the power of the river. ”
There is so much to see, and see it you can. Just do it carefully.
For more on the changing landscape at the Elwha and to see current photos see our story in the Seattle Times published Sunday June 10. For more on the Elwha restoration, see our special project.