Fish are already making their way past the former Glines Canyon Dam and are upstream of the former Lake Mills on the Elwha River.
Fisheries biologists working on the dam removal project have reported two radio-tagged bull trout have made their way through Glines Canyon and are now upstream of the former lake in Rica Canyon, about 2.5 miles above the dam site.
Two other bull trout have also been detected above Glines Canyon, but were not located during the ground survey, according to a news release from Olympic National Park. Biologists plan to use airplanes to conduct watershedwide surveys later this fall.
The last portion of the Glines Canyon Dam was blasted with explosives on Aug. 26.
“To witness these first fish to migrate above Glines Canyon is both amazing and inspiring,” superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said in the release. “We always knew the fish would return once the dams were removed – but these four fish passed through Glines Canyon even before the concrete was gone.”
Both of the fish currently in Rica Canyon were tagged earlier this summer at locations below the former Elwha dam site.
The radio tracking program is a partnership with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington’s National Park Fund.
Each fish is equipped with a uniquely coded radio transmitter that differentiates it from all other tagged fish. Radio signals from the tags are then detected by radio receivers and antennas placed along the river.
Six telemetry stations have been installed from the mouth of the river to just above the Glines Canyon site. These stations continually scan for and record data, documenting when individual fish pass by each station, according to the release. Biologists are also manually tracking fish between Rica Canyon and the river mouth using handheld radio receivers and antennas
Eighty-seven anadromous fish have been radio-tagged so far. Of that total, 13 bull trout, two winter steelhead, five chinook and one sockeye salmon have been located above the old Elwha dam site.