Thursday, August 30, 2012

You Can Call it a Comeback!

Chinook, or king, salmon are the largest in the Pacific. Photo: USGS
Salmon are not exactly beautiful, but they are integral to the ecosystem of the Elwha that the NPS is trying to rebuild.
Exciting news from Olympic National Park:  Adult salmon have been spotted in the Elwha River just five months after the removal of the Elwha Dam.  Read about it in National Geographic or check it out on the National Park Service website.  The Elwha Dam has been in place since 1913; twenty five years before Olympic National Park was founded.  In all that time, salmon had no access to the river because of the dam.

I find this a particularly interesting headline.  Recently, books about human destruction of aquatic food sources, such as Paul Greenberg's Four Fish,and Mark Kurlansky's Cod and children's book World Without Fish, have sounded a dire warning: things are getting very bad. And this isn't necessarily wrong.  But what this news story illuminates is that we aren't at the end of the line (pun intended) just yet.  Instead of seeing aquatic resources as an either/or- either we fish them or we leave them alone- the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and NOAA are seeking ways to re calibrate the Organic Machines (check out Richard White's work on the Columbia River if you want to read some awesome history of human/river interactions) that have been built.  The Elwha Dam removal is only one example of these efforts.

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