Salmon found in upper Elwha River for first time in more than 100 years

A member of the Olympic National Park fisheries team snorkels just above the remnants of Glines Canyon Dam. Three Chinook salmon were sighted during a snorkel survey this week. (Photo: Olympic National Park)

PORT ANGELES -- A fisheries biologist found three adult Chinook salmon in the upper Elwha River, according to Olympic National Park officials.

The biologist made the discovery during a snorkel survey of the area above the old Glines Canyon Dam site.

These fish hadn't been spotted in this area for 102 years.

“When dam removal began three years ago, Chinook salmon were blocked far downstream by the Elwha Dam,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.  “Today, we celebrate the return of Chinook to the upper Elwha River for the first time in over a century."

The adult Chinook salmon all measured between 30 and 36 inches long in the former Lake Mills. Officials said two of the fish were resting near submerged tree stumps and a third was found in a deep pool.

“Thanks to the persistence and hard work of many National Park Service employees, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and many other partners, salmon can once again reach the pristine Elwha watershed within Olympic National Park,” said Creachbaum.

Biologists also counted 27 bull trout, nearly 400 rainbow trout and two small sculpin during their survey, officials said.

The next day, they counted 432 Chinook salmon in a 1.75-mile section of river just downstream from Glines Canyon above the old Elwha dam site.