Miles Lost Miles Gained

Art and science combine to virtually restore lost rivers through digital maps, sculpture and intersecting tales of ecosystem destruction and restoration.

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Elwha Inspired Artists Trip a Success

MLMG met up with painters Nathan DiPietro (Seattle) and Peter Malarkey (Seattle/Port Angeles), and videographer Elina Juopperi (Finland/France) for a backstage visit to both dam sites, the dam rubble disposal site, the recently revealed river bed under former Lake Aldwell, and the rapidly changing mouth of the river. Peter hosted us at his sublime residence/studio that overlooks the west side of the valley.

Great times and photos were had by all. Special thanks to Barb Maynes and Monica Norval at the NPS for securing access, and Jim Gross, Doug Noyes, and Mike Spiker at URS Inc. for leading the tour. Barnard Construction is doing a great job, and is well ahead of the NPS estimates for how long the work would take. They let us take photos from the deck overlooking the spillway, looking down over a hundred feet at the freshly notched dam crest. I was really surprised with how quickly the vegetation is coming back at Aldwell, and how far the coarse sediment wedge at Lake Mills has advanced toward Glines Canyon Dam. It will be a year or more at Glines to draw down the remaining reservoir. There is still about 15 feet to go at Aldwell but it is definitely free flowing. It was amazing to hear and see the river. 

What surprised me the most were the sediment hoodoos left on top of old growth stumps in the old Lake Aldwell. These stumps were buried under decades of deposited sand, gravel, and organic material. The reservoir lowering allowed the river to migrate through its delta and erode the sediment around the stumps back down to the original valley floor, but leaving the material on top of some of the taller stumps intact. It's not every day a lake is suddenly lowered so I am sure this is an extremely rare and ephemeral phenomena, and the rains will certainly erase these soon.

Definitely lots of inspirational stuff going on out here. Try and take a walk down the old lake Aldwell delta if you are headed down highway 101 over the river. Just park on the east side of the bridge and follow the trails to the river. The river mouth is accessible off of Place Road. This is also a popular surf spot and where I managed the design of the levee raise associated with the dam removal preparation. It was showing lots of sings of change.