Olympic National Park was definitely on our “must see” list of National Parks. How could we pass up this amazing park which is framed by the foggy Pacific Ocean, glacier-capped mountains, misty rainforest, and towering old growth pine forest? The approximately one million-acre park and the surrounding national forest dutifully protects the largest old growth forest remaining in the Pacific Northwest and boasts that over 95% of the park is designated Wilderness – that means there are no roads, no permanent buildings, no mechanized equipment, no nothin' but unadulterated nature. Olympic celebrated its 75th birthday this year and thankfully this beautiful diverse landscape will continue for generations to enjoy.
The park is huge so we just touched on a small portion. Dogs are not allowed on the trails (boo hoo and sniff sniff) and a pulled muscle on my back had us doing more driving than hiking. Needless to say, we loved seeing this park any way possible.
There are sooooo many times that Betsy and I remark how thankful we are that our conservation-minded forefathers (and nowfathers - my new word) set aside public lands for us to enjoy. Whether it is a cultural, historic, or natural site, it doesn't matter we thank them every time.
One of the remarkable legacies celebrated by the park is the restoration of the Elwha River. This project is the largest dam removal project in the United States that has set free a penned up, tamed river that has been confined by mans hand for 100 years. The project involves removing two dams and draining two reservoirs so the Elwha can finally flow from its headlands in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
|The Elwha dam was originally constructed for hydropower but never included the required fish passage critical for maintaining the population of migrating salmon.|
|With the physical structure now gone, the land has been recontoured and will be planted with native vegetation in an effort to restore the site to pre-dam ecological conditions.|
|The Elwha River now flows freely and native fish are free to migrate.|