Sand bars forming at the mouth of the Elwha River

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I’ve been following the recovery of the Elwha River since the removal of its dams last year. This report, the positive result, and the promise that this positive result will continue are at once scientifically important to the re-wilding movement and heartwarming:

…A combination of lakes created by the dams being completely drained and heavy rains over the past few months have sent pulses of caramel-colored sediment into the azure waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and have started to form the sandbars, which are often clearly visible from the air.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated it would be this visual,” Shaffer said.

“It’s just striking.”

Scientists on the project estimate the two dams held back 25 million cubic yards of sand, silt, cobble and gravel.

Only about 10 percent of that has found its way to the mouth of the river or into the Strait, said Ian Miller, a coastal hazards specialist with Washington Sea Grant and one of a small army of researchers surveying beaches on either side of the Elwha’s gaping maw to see where the sediment is going.

“We still think that we’re just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sediment delivery,” Miller said…

Read the rest of the article at The Oregonian.


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