Mark Swanson/YouTube
Stilll from a video shot by a reader of the Peninsula Daily News of salmon spawning in Olympic National Park, finally able to swim all the way up the Elwha River in the wake of dam removal.

Un-Build It, and They Will Come: With Dams Gone, Chinook Return to Upper Elwha [Video]


Two years ago Chinook salmon made a triumphant return to the lower Elwha River just six months after the dam of the same name was demolished. Now they have been spotted spawning in the upper Elwha, for the first time in 102 years.

RELATED: Dammed No More: Chinook Return to Elwha River

It happened just a week after the last vestige of the Glines Canyon dam blocking the river was demolished, the Peninsula Daily News reported.

“I just happened to walk up to the edge of the stream about 100 meters above the dam, and there it was, sitting right next to the bank,” Mel Elofson, who is the assistant habitat manager with the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, told the Peninsula Daily News. “It was female, probably 20 to 25 pounds. It was in really good shape. It was exciting.”

The Elwha River dam and two others were demolished in stages beginning in 2011, part of a $325 million river-restoration project.

Olympic National Park officials have confirmed the sighting, the Peninsula Daily News said.

Watch some of those salmon spawning, courtesy of Peninsula Daily News reader Mark Swanson, who spotted and filmed them while on a camping trip.

Overall, the river is quickly returning to its original wild state, reported The News Tribune of Tacoma.

The newly unfettered river “gives fish access to 70 miles of pristine habitat, 87 percent of which is protected within the park,” The News Tribune reported. The newspaper’s profile of the reborn river is below.

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