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Clinton seeks budget funds for Elwha demolition

The US White House has allocated US$86M for removal of one of two dams on the Elwha river in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The two dams, Clines Canyon and Elwha, have been blamed for the disappearance of the once-robust runs of trout and salmon in the Elwha river. If the President’s request wins the approval of the appropriations committees in the houses of congress, the cash will secure the purchase of both dams and fund complete removal of the lower dam.

The money is part of more than US$300M in discretionary funds adopted by Congress last year for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, on top of around US$11M already allocated to environmental and engineering studies and dam acquisition. The White House is expected to request US$16M for removal of the second dam (bringing the total to US$113M) in its FY2000 budget request.

The Elwha dam is a 32m-high arch dam, partly located within Washington’s Olympic National Park. Both dams were built in the early 1900s, and together they generate around 19MW. Congress approved purchase of the dams with the intent of removing them in 1992. The US Department of Interior is now studying how the ecosystem and native fisheries can be fully restored.