Elwha: A River Reborn

Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:50 am by

Grif­fin Bay Book­store & The San Juan Island Library Present: Elwha: A Riv­er Reborn

Those of you who have fol­lowed the removal of the dam on the Elwha Riv­er or who have vol­un­teered your time plant­i­ng trees and help­ing to restore the sur­round­ing ecosys­tem will sure­ly want to attend a book talk by Seat­tle Times writer, Lyn­da Mapes on Wednes­day, Octo­ber 25, 7:00 pm at the San Juan Island Library. You’ll have the chance to hear about on-going restora­tion efforts, learn about the Elwha’s resur­gence with new life, find out how the water­shed is changing.

In Elwha: A Riv­er Reborn, Lyn­da Mapes has writ­ten a com­pelling explo­ration of one of the largest dam removal projects in the world — and the efforts to save a stun­ning North­west ecosys­tem. Dam removal start­ed in Sep­tem­ber 2011 and The Seat­tle Times, was on hand when a Mon­tana con­trac­tor removed the first pieces from two con­crete dams on the Elwha Riv­er which cuts through the Olympic range. It was the begin­ning of the largest dam removal project ever under­tak­en in North Amer­i­ca (one dam was 200 feet tall) and the start of an unprece­dent­ed attempt to restore an entire ecosystem.

More than 70 miles of the Elwha and its trib­u­taries course from the moun­tain head­wa­ters to clam­ming beach­es on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Through inter­views, field work, archival and his­tor­i­cal research, and pho­to­jour­nal­ism, The Seat­tle Times has explored and report­ed on the dam removal, the Elwha ecosys­tem, its indus­tri­al­iza­tion, and now its renew­al. Elwha: A Riv­er Reborn is based on these fea­ture articles.

Rich­ly illus­trat­ed with stun­ning pho­tographs by Steve Ring­man, as well as his­toric images, graph­ics, and a map, Elwha tells the inter­wo­ven sto­ries of this region. Meet the Low­er Elwha Klal­lam tribe, who anx­ious­ly await the return of renowned salmon runs savored over the gen­er­a­tions in the sto­ries of their elders. Dis­cov­er the biol­o­gists and engi­neers who are bring­ing the dams down and lay­ing the plan for renew­al, includ­ing an unprece­dent­ed reveg­e­ta­tion effort that will even­tu­al­ly cov­er more than 700 acres of mudflats.

When the dam start­ed to come down in Fall 2011–anticipated for more than 20 years since Con­gress passed the Elwha Restora­tion Act–it was the begin­ning of a $350 mil­lion project observed around the world. Elwha: A Riv­er Reborn is inspir­ing and instruc­tive, a tri­umphant sto­ry of place, peo­ple, and envi­ron­ment striv­ing to come together.

Lyn­da will also talk about her lat­est book: Wit­ness Tree: Sea­sons of Change With a Cen­tu­ry-Old Oak, what The New York Times called an “intrigu­ing and more inti­mate” account that por­trays trees as “scribes, diarists, his­to­ri­ans.” They are “among our old­est jour­nal­ists,” she writes. As the Times put it: “Mapes sets out to tell the sto­ry of cli­mate change through one tree. But that is, mar­velous­ly, the least of it.”

About the Author
Lyn­da V. Mapes is a jour­nal­ist, author, and close observ­er of the nat­ur­al world. She has been a reporter at The Seat­tle Times since 1997 spe­cial­iz­ing in the cov­er­age of Indi­an tribes, nature, and the envi­ron­ment. Her writ­ing con­nects ordi­nary peo­ple and nature. In 1997, while work­ing at the Spokesman Review in Spokane, Wash­ing­ton, she was award­ed the Ger­ald Loeb award for a series on salmon recov­ery efforts in the Colum­bia Basin. In addi­tion to her news­pa­per career, she is the author of two books, Wash­ing­ton: The Spir­it of the Land and Break­ing Ground. She lives in Seat­tle with her hus­band Dou­glas MacDonald.

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