Robin Hill Farm greenhouse will grow Elwha plants

A $358,000 contract for design and construction of the National Park Service's new greenhouse and nursery in Robin Hill Farm County Park has was awarded to Northcon, Inc. of Hayden, Idaho.

The greenhouse, tool shed, cold frames and nursery beds are being built for the Elwha River dams removal and river restoration project.

Design will take until early summer and construction is scheduled to be done by the fall.

Robin Hill County Park covers 195 acres off Dryke Road just north of U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim.

The greenhouse and nursery will be located on five acres within a 20-acre site that is maintained for pasture management.

"Having Olympic National Park's native plant nursery at Robin Hill Park is a great opportunity for the public to learn about this program," said Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger.

The 210-foot-high Glines Canyon Dam, built between 1925-1927, created Lake Mills. Lake Aldwell is the reservoir created in 1913 by the construction of the 108-foot Elwha Dam.

Removal of the two dams, authorized by the 1992 Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act, now is scheduled to begin in 2011.

Once they are removed hundreds of thousands of native plants from the greenhouse and nursery will be used to restore native vegetation to more than 700 acres of the Elwha Valley.

Olympic National Park's native plant propagation program is recognized as one of the best in the Pacific Northwest.

Since it began in 1987, the program has produced more than 400,000 native plants for restoring damaged areas throughout the park including Seven Lakes Basin, Lake Constance, Hurricane Ridge and several sites along the wilderness coast.

David Graves of the National Parks Conservation Association said, "We're very excited about the greenhouse contract award because it's an important step that will allow the park to be ready once the dams do come out."

Graves has led groups of volunteers into the park during past summers to remove exotic plant species.

Then, after the dams are removed, the native plant species can re-establish themselves with help from the Robin Hill greenhouse and nursery.

Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin said, "We're grateful for the creativity and collaboration with Clallam County staff that is making this new facility possible.

"The project meets both park and Clallam County goals, and with construction of the new greenhouse and nursery, we are another step closer to restoring the Elwha ecosystem," she said.

Reach Brian Gawley at

Northcon, Inc. of Hayden, Idaho, is a Native American-owned general contractor serving the federal, commercial and residential markets of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming since 1992.

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