Hope you’re sitting down for this one, but according to a recent report by the Seattle Times, when you tear down a dam blocking a salmon and steelhead river, they return! In this case, the river is the Elwah, located on the Olympic Penisnula of Washington State and the fish are the icons of the Northwest, Steelhead.
That is, of course, great news and we don’t mean to pick on The Times, especially when there is even more good news to share. According to the story, these fish have returned to the formerly-blocked sections of the river earlier and are in better shape than expected. They’ve even started spawing in some of the Elwah’s tributaries. Here’s the money quote:
The gray ghosts of the Elwha are back: wild steelhead, already spotted beyond the free-flowing stretch of river that used to be Elwha Dam, for the first time in a century.
John McMillan, fish biologist based in Port Angeles for NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center of Seattle, saw the 35-inch male steelhead in the Little River last month. The fish had no tag and was much bigger than the fish he and colleague Ray Moses of the Lower Elwha Kallam Tribe have been capturing, tagging and relocating to help spark colonization of the river.
This fish found its way back on his own.