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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

October 29, 2012 at 2:00 PM

“She’s all river now”: No more reservoirs on the Elwha

With a big shot of dynamite, the last of Lake Mills drained through what’s left of Glines Canyon Dam last week. There’s still about 50 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam standing. But the last of the once 210-foot-tall structure will be gone by May.

Today the river crashes over what’s left of the dam in a waterfall. And while there is still a mixture of water and sediment that can’t get past the remaining concrete yet, there are no more reservoirs on the Elwha. “She’s all river now,” Andy Ritchie, restoration hydrologist for the National Park Service said with a big smile.

Lake Aldwell, the former reservoir above Elwha Dam, disappeared last March, along with that dam.

The pace and scope of change has been breathtaking, as this amazing pairing of aerial photos by photographer John Gussman shows. Gussman is making a documentary film about the Elwha. He got started before dam removal began, and his comprehensive documentation of the river, the dams, and the watershed as the world’s largest dam removal ever unfolds is invaluable. To see more of his work, check his website.

Here is a heck of a before and after for you:


Glines Canyon Dam and Lake Mills, before and after.

John Gussman, photos



October 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Lake Mills on the Elwha is almost history

Since 1926, the glittering blue of Lake Mills has been a landmark — albeit an artificial one — of the Northwest landscape. Lake Mills, the reservoir behind Glines Canyon Dam, was actually at the root of the legal case to tear down the Elwha dams: the reservoir intruded into the boundary of Olympic National Park….



October 15, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Birding in Seattle and King County: a new book from Eugene Hunn

Eugene Hunn is back with a beautiful new birding book, and best of all it is a detailed look at the birds right here, close to home. Richly illustrated with photographs and maps, the book belongs in the backpack and bookshelf of nature lovers and hikers of all sorts, not just birders. It’s an accessible, useful…



October 12, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Welcome home, salmon: time to get out and see returning fish

Now is our time when salmon are returning to the watersheds of Puget Sound. Even urban streams are showing the benefit of restoration work, with fish returning to their home waters. A chum salmon returns to Piper’s Creek at Carkeek Park. Photo by Alan Berner of The Seattle Times. This weekend, celebrate the 40th anniversary…



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