Friday, June 29, 2012

Elwha dam removal!

Sun star! The sun through the trees on a trail to a viewpoint over the former Elwha dam site. Copyright (c) 2012 Wendee Holtcamp

Last week was PERFECTION in every way, and this week Murphy has gone crazy!!! I have to make this short, because I have to post and caption all these images for my editors, file my story on the Elwha dam (link to come soon, I hope), and then pick my son up from his day camp job and then we are headed to the Central Oregon Coast for the weekend. A much needed break from a hell week in which my poor sweet cat is dying back home, 3,000-miles away and I can't do a damn thing other than rely on my friends and my daughter (I LOVE YOU GUYS!!) to take care of her. She is not doing well and very well may not make it. To make it worse, I feel terrible as I probably killed her myself from bringing in my beloved stray Pippin...

At any rate, that on top of PMS, communication breakdowns, and every technical difficulty with phones, GPS, internet and technology in general under the sun you can imagine... but LAST week was so perfect and fun in every way! The short version is, we arrived in Oregon, spent a couple days with my dad and Bev, I dropped Sam off at his overnight camp and then I headed to Washington. I first visited friends in Seattle, and got an awesome tour of the city with Laura (I will post pics on my next blog, promise!). The highlight was seeing the very first Starbucks, ever! And then I headed to Olympic National Park where I camped in my friend Terri Hansen's RV at Salt Creek campground, soaked in the Sol Duc hot springs, and got to interview several biologists and go see the former Elwha dam site and the Glines Canyon dam which is partly out and coming completely out soon. I'm writing an article for Nature and just got another assignment today. It was just an awesome time there, with lots of laughter, total peace of mind, new friends, and just a really great time. I am posting images from the Elwha trip and will post more in a couple few days! Here's a link to the blog post from my visit two years ago when the dams were still up.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the finished article at Nature News online: Fish return to undammed river.

First we went to the site of the upstream Glines Canyon dam, which is partly but not totally removed. This is a view showing Lake Mills, which is slowly being drained and will be gone eventually once the dam comes out completely. It's scheduled for demolition of the remaining parts beginning again on July 2nd. They are in a "fish window" now where there's no blasting or dam removal activities that could affect water quality since fish are spawning.

Another view of Lake Mills. Not sure what this structure is - I'll find out. Oh ok it is the "intake tower."
Another view of the Glines Canyon dam, partly removed.
When you look over the edge from the platform, the water makes a rainbow!
I laid down and shot this over the edge. What a high! Love it. You can see the rainbow at the top of the canyon wall on the top part of the image.
Next we went to the lower (downstream) Elwha dam, which is now completely gone! Lake Aldwell used to be here, but is fully drained, and they are grading the riverbanks and have begun replanting native vegetation.
Another shot of the tractors and backhoes or whatever they are called grading the banks post-removal.
This is the Elwha river near the former Elwha dam site.
A pile of contaminated soil at the dam site, waiting to be removed and shipped off. I'm writing an article about this but the dam itself and its structures had some contaminants.
Then I took a short trail to an overlook where you can see a bigger view of the former Elwha dam site. Pretty cool! Barb Maynes, the Public Information Officer for National Park Service/Olympic NP on the project said it's interesting to stand there and listen to the various conversations about the dam.
This is the view from the end of the trail of the Elwha dam site activity.
Another view.
A fern on the trail.
A view through the woods of the former Elhwa dam.
The next day, I went out in the field with several scientists to take turbidity data in a tributary (actually, it was technically a floodplain channel) of the Elwha. We met at the tribe hatchery building, and this is a shot of a snow-capped mountain in the distance on the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation.
Another view of the mountains in the distance, from a road in the reservation.
In the channel, this is Chris Curran with US Geological Survey, Matt Beirne a biologist with the Elwha tribe, John McMillan a fisheries biologist with NOAA and Jeff Duda with USGS. The USGS guys were teaching the others some techniques to monitor turbidity, and calibrating for some sampling error or somesuch. (Earlier, I mis-identified Chris C as Chris Magirl - sorry! They both were out with us that day)
I believe this is USGS hydrologist Jeff Duda walking in the tributary.
Me in my waders. Sexy huh? Just kidding! LOL. I don't like this photo of me, but whatevs.
Matt, Chris C and John in the channel.
NOAA biologist George Pess in the channel with some turbidity equipment.
This is a view from the campground Terri and I stayed at - gorgeous isn't it?


Anonymous said...

Hi Wendee. "Another shot of the tractors and backhoes or whatever they are called grading the banks post-removal." just a small reference, but in case you use the pic in some article that piece of equpipment is called a 'hydraulic excavator.'

Anonymous said...

I think you look wonderful in all of your photos because you shine LOVE in all of them and don't you forget it!:)

Hope kitty is ok:( said...

Perfect!!! What I can say is this article is very important to be written as and wonderful information about Removals may help everybody to get awareness. Good job done.

Gold Coast Removal