Friday, September 16, 2011

On hand at Elwha

“It’s an exciting time to be a dam buster.”

Those were some of the opening remarks from Patagonia CEO and activist-legend Yvon Chouinard in his keynote address at a two-day science symposium on research and monitoring activities for the Elwha River dam removal project.

And he’s right. Never before has there been a more exciting moment for river restoration and salmon recovery. The removal of two dams on the Elwha River commences tomorrow, Saturday 17th, on the Olympic Peninsula. The project is the largest dam removal project in the world, ever.  Background on the Elwha Project here.

Yvon Chouinard

The free event was packed with hundreds of scientists, conservationists, and local business leaders in attendance. Representatives of the Olympic National Park Service, Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Army Corps of Engineers were in attendance.

Matt Stoecker of Stoecker Ecological gave a brief presentation about his work to improve fisheries habitat in Southern California following a short film about his important work."The Elwha," he said, "is just the beginning."

Sam Mace, SOS’ Inland Northwest Project Director also spoke following a screening of the Patagonia film “Freedom to Roam.” Sam spoke about the importance of the Elwha project to other river restoration projects around the country including on the Lower Snake River. She thanked officials for working in collaboration to come up a with solution and pointed out that this is exactly the kind of collaboration and leadership now needed to save endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake River basins.

James Waddell from the Army Corps of Engineers and Sam Mace of Save Our Wild Salmon

Dylan Tomine, a Patagonia Flyfishing Ambassador, spoke briefly about the value of letting the Elwha River heal and restore the wild fisheries it once boasted. 

Yvon’s presentation addressed Patagonia’s early beginnings in building a company dedicated to the environment, addressing the fact that our water use and purchasing habits all have an impact. Purchasing sustainable wild fish is important, and to improve the situation, dam removal projects must continue. Patagonia cites dam removal as the “Holy Grail” of conservation, and they mean it.  As Mr. Chouinard said regarding dam removal, “we are on a roll!”

The event concluded with a special Q&A session were several conference attendees took the opportunity to publicly thank Mr. Chouinard for his dedication, and to all of those who helped make Elwha dam removal possible and continue to fight for river restoration elsewhere.

Special thanks to the Olympic National Park Service, the Elwha Research Consortium, Stoecker Ecological and Patagonia for a truly inspiring evening in the midst of this momentous occasion.  

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