Monday April 3, 2023

Washington Policy Center

It has been about ten years since the first dam on the Elwha River was removed in 2012 and the Department of Fish and Wildlife recently released the final counts of salmon returns for 2022. There is good and bad news.

The good news is that for Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead, returns were up from 2021. Both Steelhead and Coho saw their highest levels since the removal of the two dams.

Chinook returns, however, were still below the 10-year average. Despite claims that Chinook are “surging back,” returns have been below that average three years in a row. As the report notes, Chinook are “one of the species of most concern in the Elwha River,” because Puget Sound Chinook are listed as threatened.

Steelhead returns have been growing consistently and benefitted from a large stock of Rainbow Trout above the dams that became ocean-going when the dams were removed.

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