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A River Reawakened

By Jessica Plumb in Orion

Ten Years of Rewilding the Elwha Watershed

IN SEPTEMBER 2011, I stood on a river overlook with children from my daughter’s elementary school, all of us transfixed by a giant jackhammer pounding cement to rubble.

Below us, a waterfall raged through the first notch carved in the Lower Elwha Dam, as dust rose in the September sunshine, drifting over Douglas fir and cedar crowns. Trees were the only spectators old enough to remember when the Elwha River ran free, a century earlier. The rest of us stood in awe, watching the world’s largest dam removal to date, feeling time start to spin in reverse.

I’ve spent a decade bearing witness to an unprecedented restoration experiment in Washington State. That September day committed me to unraveling the river’s story, while dam removal raised enough questions to keep scientists engaged for years to come. FOR MORE

Photo credit: Unsplash, Jan Cronies

eco literature, ecology, ENVIRONMENT

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