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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

September 20, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Up close and personal: a first look at Elwha chinook

John McMillan, biologist with NOAA Fisheries Northwest Science Center is spending his fall in a way many would kill for: his job is to go out with other monitoring partners working on the Elwha River restoration, including Raymond Moses, fisheries staff from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to look for spawning redds and fish utilizing river habitat opened up by taking out the Elwha Dam last March.

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Raymond Moses of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s fisheries staff braves the cold waters of Little River, a tributary of the Elwha River above the former Elwha Dam site, during a June steelhead spawning redd survey. Moses toughed out about 2.5 miles of back country stream survey in waders.

John McMillan photo

Lucky for the rest of us, John is also an extraordinary photographer. The result is his recent book, May the Rivers Never Sleep, by John and his dad Bill McMillan, just out from Amato Books. The book follows the changing seasonal ecology, month by month, of some of the most beautiful rivers in the region, including the Elwha.

And then there is this photo, not previously published: John’s portrait, up close and personal, of some of the first chinook returning to the Elwha watershed as the dams come down.

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A female chinook in the Little River, a tributary of the Elwha, for the first time since Elwha Dam was built in 1910.

If you are wondering what Elwha restoration looks like, this is one of its faces.

Photo by John McMillan

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