Glines Canyon Dam
In Asia, Africa, and South America, large hydroelectric dams are still being built, as they once were in the United States, to power economic development, with the added argument now that the electricity they provide is free of greenhouse gas emissions. But while the U.S. still benefits from the large dams it built in the 20th century, there’s a growing recognition that in some cases, at least, dam-building went too far—and the Elwha River is a symbol of that.
Despite the prolific salmon runs up the 45-mile long Elwha River, the salmon couldn’t compete with the power needs of the timber industry on the Olympic Peninsula; power that fed the mills and growing population of workers. Fish were no match for finance, and the 108-foot-high Elwha Dam, located five miles upstream from the river’s outlet, started generating power in 1914.
The Glines Canyon 210-foot-high dam, locate a further eight miles upstream was built in 1927. The battle to get the dams removed involved many legal moves by the local tribes but finally, in 1992 Congress authorized the federal purchase of the two dams on the Elwha from the timber companies that owned them and ordered a study of the idea of removing them.
The irony here is that it took over two decades to get the dams removed, far longer then it took to build them in the first place.
Our volunteers collected water quality data from 128 Wild and Scenic Rivers, enabling federal and state agencies to improve accountability and inform river policy, protection, and management decisions.
Our Timber Tracking volunteers collected samples from 787 locations (and counting!) across the range of eastern black walnut, enabling the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service to combat illegal logging.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration incorporated our microplastics data into their global marine microplastics dataset.
rad power bikes
Once a year, a group of us get together to rekindle friendships and catch up. This year, Brad, Jason and myself decided to meet up at one of our favorite campsites on the Strait of Juan de Fuca just west of Port Angeles.
I had been anxious to see the results of the dam removals especially the upper Glines Canyon dam. However, a day trip into the area is problematic as the Olympic Hot Spring Road which accessed this area is permanently closed due to a washout that cut the pavement just beyond the Madison Creek Falls.
But we had a solution, something Jason had known about for a while, but just recently acquired by Theresa and myself; Rad Power Bikes. There are plenty of reviews both on YouTube and other sites praising the virtues of these bikes. They do a good job so there’s no reason for me to duplicate their information and I agree with all they mention.
But for me, there is the aspect, which they don’t touch on, of using them as a filming platform extending the range of what can be explored in a day. And here is where I think their real power comes into play. This trip was a perfect example.
Not only did we make it to the Glines Canyon dam but we continued up the steep road all the way to the Appleton Pass Trailhead. We made frequent stops along the way enjoying the views and taking photographs. By the time we had returned to the FJ we had explored over 18 miles of trail; with a full load of filming, photography gear. This was something we would hardly have been able to comfortably complete on foot.
And, we had energy left to cook a large skillet of Chili-n-Mac and enjoy beverages around our campfire. A perfect ending to a perfect day.