With dams removed, chinook salmon spotted in upper Elwha River for first time in a century

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PORT ANGELES, Washington — Olympic National Park says that for the first time in more than a century, chinook salmon have been spotted in the upper reaches of the Elwha River following the recent removal of two dams.

Fisheries staff equipped with snorkels confirmed the presence of the three big fish above where the final chunks of the 210-foot-tall Glines Canyon dam were blasted away last month. The salmon were between 30 and 36 inches long, with two resting near the submerged stumps of ancient trees and the third in a deep pool in what used to be Lake Mills.

The biologists also saw 27 bull trout and nearly 400 rainbows. Hundreds more chinook have been counted just downstream of Glines Canyon.

The Elwha had a legendary run of massive chinook before the 108-foot Elwha Dam was built in 1911, cutting off access to their spawning grounds. Both dams have been removed in a $325 million river restoration project that began in September 2011.

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