This series of images is not merely about a free river. It is part of a larger project that deals with man’s want to tame a landscape. To tame nature in ways that will benefit his needs and wants; to domesticate the wild with a disregard to its effect.
The Elwha River was once a great resource. Hosting 10 salmon runs with over 400,000 migrating fish, some over 100 pounds, navigating its waters annually. This was a river that fed the Elwha Klallam Tribe; a tribe whose main source of food and their cultural heritage was stolen out from under them with the building of two dams along the river in the early 1900s. By the 90’s, sockeye were extinct, chum and the spring Chinook were almost, Pink were endangered and you were lucky to see a summer steelhead.
A century ago, the Glines and Elwha Dams powered the booming timber industry along the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula, pumping power to the local pulp mill in Port Angeles. But before damn removal, the Nippon Paper Mill was being powered by the City of Port Angeles’s power grid. The Elwha dam was built before federal regulations were put into place that required all dams to provide fish ladders. The Elwha was never licensed and the Glines was due for relicensing. Their time of usefulness was over and the cost of upgrading and relicensing the dams was greater than the cost to take them down.
The removal of the Glines Canyon Dam and its down river counterpart, the Elwha Dam, was, at the time, the largest Dam removal in History. As of September 2014, the once broken, glacier-fed river is now flowing free from the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 38 million cubic yards of sediment is estimated to finish its down river journey, replenishing and rebuilding habitats as well as ecosystems along the way. The mouth of the river itself has grown a quarter mile. Salmon runs are expected to grow from 3,000, to 300,00, as all five species of the Pacific Salmon return upriver for the first time in nearly a century.
There are over 75,000 dams in this country, more than 800 in Washington State alone. Many are like the Elwha and Glines, which were out of date, more dangerous than good, and the cost of removal was well worth the expectations of what it would give us in return.
This project has been made possible by a grant from the Artist Trust of Washington State.
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*** These Images are printed 11x16.5 on archival Hahnemühle Matte Fine Art Photo Paper in editions of 16.
Prices: (prices do not include tax or shipping)
Print Only: $200.00
Framed & Matted: $300.00