Applaud World’s Largest Dam Removal Project

Elwha River

Target: River Restoration Director for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Robert Elofson

Goal: Praise the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe for the removal of the Elwha Dam

The Elwha River in Washington is home to several species of Dungeness crab, salmon, clams, and other species, but decades ago this river was dammed up to provide power to the lumber mills that worked the area. Thanks to concerns raised by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, this dam has been destroyed, making it the world’s largest dam removal project to be completed. The tribe, along with the National Park Service, should be applauded for their work in removing the dam and restoring the river and estuaries in this region.

While countries in Africa, Asia, and South America are working towards building more dams to generate power for their economies, the United States is starting to recognize that certain large scale dams do more harm than good. Many of the people of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe opposed the idea of the dam when it was proposed in 1914. It wasn’t until the tribe gained federal recognition that they started fighting against the Elwha Dam.

The structure has endangered the salmon and other marine wildlife that live in the river. The salmon especially have been negatively affected, and as the tribe members make their livelihoods through the fish, they too were affected. They fought for the protection and restoration of the salmon runs, but faced fierce opposition by the government, notably former Senator Slade Gorton and the lumber mill industry. After two decades of fighting and recruiting the National Park Service in their efforts the dam removal project was approved. In September 2011, demolition began on the dam, restoring the estuaries and beaches.

The destruction of this dam couldn’t have been made possible without the commitment and devotion of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. These people appreciated and loved their environment so much that they continued to fight for its restoration for decades. They should be applauded for their tireless efforts against the government and lumber mill companies.


Dear Robert Elofson,

I am writing this letter to applaud you and your tribe for your commitment to the environment, notably in getting the Elwha River restored. This river used to flow freely, but in the early 1900’s this waterway was blocked by man made dams used to generate power. It disrupted the environment and negatively impacted the salmon and other marine life living in the area.

It took decades for your tribe to fight for the demolition of this dam, and it has finally come true. It amazes me that despite the opposition your tribe faced, you continued to persevere. I want to thank you for your tireless efforts and I hope other countries and organizations will pause and think the next time they decide to build a dam.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Elwhajeff via Wikimedia Commons

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