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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Release: November 24, 2008
Chris Curran

John Clemens

Before the Elwha Dams Come Down

[Editors: The report can be viewed on the Web at .]

Scientific data from the Elwha River will help create a detailed "before" picture of the river, ahead of scheduled removal of two large dams that will release more than 80 years of trapped river sediments, according to a report published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Near the mouth of the river, scientists mapped the river’s channel and banks and measured current speeds. These maps and measurements will be needed later to evaluate the effects of dam removal on the river and its estuary.

Removal of the two dams is necessary to restore fish runs to the river. Completed between 1913 and 1927, the dams have blocked fish passage into the upper watershed and trapped much of the river’s coarse sediment load. Large changes in the river channel are expected, particularly near the mouth of the river.

The report, "Bank Topography, Bathymetry, and Current Velocity of the Lower Elwha River, Clallam County, Washington, May 2006," by Christopher A. Curran, Christopher P. Konrad, Randal L. Dinehart, and Edward H. Moran, is published as U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 363 and is available on the Web at

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