When the Elwha River dams fell, it was the culmination of many decades of successful partnerships to support the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in righting historic wrongs. Cameron Macias bent down to examine a small pile of sawdust-filled scat on the floor of the former Lake Mills on the Elwha River in the northwest corner of Washington state in 2016. It was a sign that beavers were moving into the area after a 100+ year absence . “There’s very small dam-building activity in some of the side tributaries,” says Macias, who was working at the time as a wildlife technician for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, of which she is a member. “It’s kind of funny and ironic because of the dam removal,” Macias says with a laugh. The dams she’s referring to—the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams—were removed in 2011 and 2014 respectively, and together they are considered the world’s largest dam removal project to date. Many other tribes have looked to the success of the Elwha River dam removals in bringing down fish-blocking dams in their lands as well, including along the Snake River and the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Together, the country’s 2 million […]

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