The Elwha River

Due to obstructions left in the river from an incomplete dam removal project, the Olympic Hot Springs Road being washed out, no plan for long term feasibility, approximately 15 feet of the Elwha Dam being left in the river, as well as thousands of pounds of metal debris littered throughout the watershed.  Plus the $5,000 ($365million spent on incomplete project) it would take to reissue a concessions contract, the National Park Service ADMINISTRATION has decided not to renew our concessions contract and all Elwha River trips have been postponed INDEFINITELY.

5/27/16 NEWS RELEASE - ELWHA RIVER

OLYMPIC National Park News Release
May 27, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Barb Maynes 360-565-3005
Park Cautions Elwha River Boaters to Avoid Former Elwha Dam Site

Olympic National Park staff urges all boaters to stay away from the section of river that flows through the former Elwha dam site. This site is located between U.S Highway 101 and State Highway 112, outside of the Olympic National Park boundary. A map of the area will follow within minutes.
Remnants of the dam’s foundation remain in that area of the river and include long pieces of rebar and other metal shards that extend close to the water’s surface. Boulders and swift currents in the area compound the risks and boaters are urged to avoid this section of river.
“The risk of snagging a boat on the remaining metal is high and presents a very real danger to boaters and swimmers,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Until we are able to correct this problem later this year, we urge everyone to portage around the old Elwha Dam site.”
The park is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a plan for removing the metal during this summer’s low river flows. Until then, boaters, tubers and swimmers are urged to avoid the section of river through the old Elwha dam site.
The Elwha River is closed to boating from the Smokey Hill Trail (formerly Upper Lake Mills Trail) downstream to the Altair Campground. The river is open to boating from the Altair Campground downstream, but boating through the former Elwha site is strongly discouraged.
The Olympic Hot Springs Road, which provides access into the upper Elwha Valley, remains closed to motor vehicles at the park boundary due to a major road washout. National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration engineers have completed plans for repairing and reopening the road. These plans are currently under review by the National Marine Fisheries Service, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. These agencies oversee management and protection of threatened and endangered anadromous fish and fish habitat, and are reviewing plans to ensure that threatened Chinook and bulltrout populations are not adversely effected. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and Washington State Department of Ecology are also reviewing the park’s plans. Once plans are approved, construction will begin immediately and is expected to take approximately eight weeks to complete.
The road is open to pedestrians, bicyclists, horses and leashed pets. Trails remain closed to pets and bicycles, as normal. Hikers planning day or overnight hikes into the Elwha Valley will need to begin their hikes at the park boundary. From the closure, it is a seven-mile walk to the Whiskey Bend Trailhead and an eight-mile walk to the Boulder Creek trailhead.
For more information about visiting Olympic National Park, including current road, campground and trail conditions, people should visit http://www.nps.gov/olym.
-NPS-

Barb Maynes

Public Information Officer
Olympic National Park
360-565-3005 (office)
360-477-5326 (cell)

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Photo by John GussmanElwha River, Olympic National ParkSalmon on the Elwha River

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