Wednesday October 11, 2023


With the plonk of fishing tackle in clear, green water, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s first fishery on a free-flowing river in more than a century got underway.

“I am so proud of my tribe today,” said Russell Hepfer, vice chairman of the tribe, to a gathering of more than 100 people from the community and beyond to share in ceremony before starting the fishery on Monday. There was a welcome song, a prayer song and, of course, a salmon song.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Hepfer said. “The laughs, the joy we all feel in our hearts, is just tremendous, it’s historic.”

Two dams blocked nearly 90 miles of river and tributary habitat on the Elwha, or more than 90% of the river, since 1911. But both the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were gone by August 2014 after a couple of years of demolition in what was the largest dam removal project ever undertaken.

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