September 9, 2013
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, Wash. — The kings have returned to the Elwha River.
One year after chinook were sighted— the first in 100 years — in the Elwha River above the site of the former Elwha Dam, adult chinook again have been spotted above the dam site, about 8 miles west of Port Angeles.
Wildlife biologists have counted at least 500 adult chinook in the river, as well as a few pink salmon and coho, said Rainey McKenna, spokeswoman for Olympic National Park, in which most of the river runs.
The official count will be released in November, but biologists said the run looks nearly identical to that of 2012.
“The run is every bit as strong as last year,” McKenna said.
The fall run of chinook is just past its peak, and numbers are continuing to increase daily, she said last week.
Silt is no problem for the fish, she added.
In April, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, operating a separate fish hatchery along the Elwha River, attributed the deaths of year-old chinook salmon, which were found along the Elwha banks, to heavy sedimentation in the river.
But now, because of a hold put on dam removal while filtration issues are addressed at the federally funded Elwha Water Treatment Plant and surface water intake — and because of low summer rainfall and runoff levels — the amount of sediment in the river water has returned to normal levels, within healthy ranges for salmon, McKenna said.