Scientist: Beaches grow as Elwha dams are removed

A scientist monitoring the shoreline near the mouth of the Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River says beaches are starting to grow as two massive dams are removed.

Ian Miller, a coastal hazards specialist, tells the Peninsula Daily News that some of the sediment held back for nearly a century by the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams is accumulating in sand bars shaped nearly every day by the river’s flow. Beaches to the east of the Elwha’s mouth are growing slightly and becoming sandier as more sediment is released.

Miller regularly surveys four sites near the mouth: three just to the east and one just to the west.

A key question is how much Elwha sediment is reaching the surrounding shorelines, and whether it can stop or reverse beach erosion that has been documented for decades.

The Elwha Dam was removed last spring. The Glines Canyon Dam is expected to be removed by May.