Magazine article National Parks

Running Wild

Magazine article National Parks

Running Wild

Article excerpt

Several summers ago, I took my family to Katmai National Park in Alaska, where we saw brown bears plucking spawning salmon from the park's rivers and streams. Eagles and other wildlife also gathered on the shores to feast on the fish. It's a rhythm that has been present for hundreds of years, with little interruption.

Alaska's unmarred landscape paints a picture of what could happen in the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington State when the Elwha and Glines dams are finally removed, a process that began in September, part of the largest dam-removal project in U.S. history (see page 10 for all the details). More than 100 years ago, hundreds of thousands of salmon swam up the rivers to spawning grounds. Today the Elwha salmon runs are lower than 4,000 per year. Fewer salmon has meant the loss of an important food source for other species such as bears and eagles and an important part of cultural rituals for tribes in the area. …

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