Program focuses on marine research before dam removal

Two dams built in the early 1900s will be removed from the Elwha River beginning in 2012. The removal is to restore the river and its salmon runs, but the restoration will affect both the riparian and the offshore habitat for years to come.

Elwha Conversations, a public event celebrating the marine world off the Elwha River, begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, in Room J-47 at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles.

"Elwha Conversations is a unique opportunity to learn about research being conducted in the marine waters off the Elwha River, said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Anne Shafer.

"Information gleaned from this research provides important insight into the current state of our marine environment, as well as an understanding of the nearshore restoration response to the upcoming dam removals, and relationships between the marine environment and the Elwha River and watershed."

The gathering begins at

5 p.m. with an informal reception honoring an exhibition of Mary Peck's photographs that are inspired by the landscape and wilderness of the Olympic Peninsula. The 20 wide-format photographs were selected from Peck's book "Away Out Over Everything" and capture the mystery of the Elwha.

At 6:30 p.m., Drs. Andrea Ogston, of the University of Washington, and Guy Gelfenbaum, of the U.S. Geological Survey, discuss their recent studies of the hydrodynamic and sediment processes of the Elwha nearshore, which extends from western Freshwater Bay to the end of Ediz Hook.

Bill Ritchie, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, will give an overview of marine birds of the Elwha nearshore.

A public discussion and question-and-answer session will conclude the event.

The meeting is the fifth annual forum of the Elwha Nearshore Consortium, citizens, scientists and managers dedicated to promoting and understanding the nearshore restoration association with the upcoming Elwha dam removals. The consortium is coordinated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Clallam County Marine Resources Committee, with partnership of Peninsula College and Olympic National Park.

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