Undamming the Elwha

Elwha Update
  • Elwha River Update, March 2014

Undammed River’s Sediment Brings New Life

About 3 million cubic yards of sediment have been flushed down the Elwha River since dam removal began in 2011.

Undamming the Elwha
  • KCTS 9 Original
  • Other Ways to Watch

Undamming the Elwha

KCTS 9 and EarthFix chronicle the historic removal of two dams from the Elwha River, and show how it will impact people, salmon and the environment for years to come.

Undamming the Elwha

Due to the vivid imagery used in telling this story, we are presenting this video on our website in glorious HD. However, if you have a slow connection, here are other ways in which you can still enjoy this program.

Elwha River Update

An Undammed River’s Sediment Brings New Life Downstream

About 3 million cubic yards of sediment have been flushed down the Elwha River since dam removal began in 2011. That’s only 16 percent of what’s expected to move downstream in the next five years.

Read More on EARTHFIX

About the Documentary

It begins as a glacier. Then a trickle. The Elwha builds into a swift river, rushing through the temperate rain forests of Olympic National Park.

For the last 100 years, two hydroelectric dams have blocked this river and severed its migrating salmon from many miles of prime spawning habitat upstream. The Elwha’s salmon have all but disappeared.

Now, the dams are coming down in the largest dam removal project ever attempted and the second-largest environmental restoration effort in U.S. history. What happens here could decide the fate of future restoration projects around the country and the world.

Undamming the Elwha follows the journey of the Elwha river from the day it was dammed to the day it was set free once again. This KCTS Television original documentary is a co-production of KCTS Television and EarthFix.

Science Café: Elwha River Dam Removal

Watch: Elwha River Dam Removal

Empire of Dirt Gives Way to the Return of the Salmon

Read the associated article on EarthFix

Scientists Measure What Dams Have Done to the Elwha

Read the associated article on EarthFix

Welcoming Coho to the Upper Elwha River

Read the associated article on EarthFix




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Undamming the Elwha is a historic event in the fight to save the environment. It has for long stopped the salmons from reproducing and spawning. Since they do not reach there it cannot provide the essential nutrients for the waters and land in the area. This has a major effect.


The removal of the dam had been indeed spawned a variety of reactions from the masses. Environmentalists are happy that the natural order will be restored to make sure that the salmons do have a chance to survive in the Elwha.

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The UW Center for Ecogenetics & Environmental Health has a blog series about the Elwha Restoration. Part 6: A Perfect Storm of Opportunity, was posted today. It's about the policies and politics it took to remove the Elwha River dams. Also blogs about tribal interests and salmon. Take a look at www.ecogenetix.org


Thank you for sharing the video about Elwha, I know there were
Dramatic changes following Elwha Dam removal. The removal of two dams has freed the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula, but the most dramatic changes are being observed in the mass movement of silts, sands and gravels entrapped for decades behind the dams.


Folks should visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park for an Exhibit on the Elwha Dam removal, Voices of the Elwha



i have tried to watch 'undamming the Elwha' multiple times but as my connection is 54mb the video does not stream, starting and stopping mid sentence. i stopped trying. unfortunately, i cannot pause the video and have it continue to load. very frustrating as i am sure there is lots of good information being presented. http://oldtownvapor10.blogspot.com/


Hello Brian,

Were you trying to watch the HD version or SD? The SD version is here:

Hope this helps.

KCTS 9 Staff


Thank you so very much for making this excellent film. Watching your film I couldn't help but realize the ecological, emotional, spiritual and personal impact that this historic dam removal will make. It is a reunion of the land, water, fish, forest and people. It brings home to me the importance of being wise about our resources and to do all we can to preserve it.
Your film is very well done. Sharing your film with the world will give hope to others and remind us humans that we can do what is good for Mother Nature and ourselves by showing our appreciation for her.


Excellent documentary of a significant event. Thanks Katie.


After attending the Central Library showing, there were a few comments I would care to add. I'm presuming the intended audience for this film is local, but believe the film would benefit from more detail at the beginning, such as the actual location of the dam(s), and a map of the river and the direction of its flow.

This is a local tribal and Port Angeles issue, but it is ALSO A NATIONAL ISSUE AND A NATIONAL PROJECT. In addition to the details above, the film would benefit from the basic, simple explanation for dismantling the dam(s) since this is the first project of its kind anywhere. There is a simple summary on another website of how, for example, the water is removed first. I do believe some simple facts like this could enhance even tribal and school interest.

Thanking you for this opportunity to add these comments.

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Thank you for presenting this project.

It is so refreshing to see projects that span election time frames :)

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I was able to watch this program the other night and found it to be a very exciting event. Not just for our Tribal people and the salmon, but to see nature restored to its original state. Sometimes we can just close our eyes and dream of how the banks looked way way back then. My river has a dam or two above it and can't wait for them to be removed. May it be by man or nature taken over what a site it will be. Thanks for sharing this historical event.

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Thank you for sharing the non-HD site. I was able to stream the video there with no interruptions.

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That's good information for me since I will not be able to record the program tonight. Is there, or will there be, a video available? This is something I would like to show to a couple of groups.


Hi Skip, The documentary will air again on Sunday, April 22 -- Earth Day -- at 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Or email me at kcampbell@kcts9.org.


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Thanks for the positive feedback, Bill!


i have tried to watch 'undamming the Elwha' multiple times but as my connection is 54mb the video does not stream, starting and stopping mid sentence. i stopped trying. unfortunately, i cannot pause the video and have it continue to load. very frustrating as i am sure there is lots of good information being presented.

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When I initially commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!

Hi Guest,

Here's another place you can try watching it on standard definition:
Hope this helps

KCTS 9 Staff


I'm sorry you're having trouble watching the video online here. We've also uploaded the video to our EarthFix website and posted it on Vimeo -- you can choose to watch it not in HD here: http://earthfix.kcts9.org/multimedia/video/undamming-the-elwha-the-docum...
I hope that helps!

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