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Finding the River: An Environmental History of the Elwha

Finding the River: An Environmental History of the Elwha
Jeff Crane
Oregon State University Press
Publication Date: 

paper, 250 pp., $24.95

Jeff Crane presents a long-term environmental and human history of Washington’s Elwha River. Finding the River explores the rise of the river restoration movement in the late twentieth century and the roles that free-flowing rivers could play in preserving salmon in a changing climatic world.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Indian tribe, settlers, and business interests have used the River and its resources over time, including harnessing the Elwha for hydroelectric production. With the removal of two dams on the River as his backdrop, Crane describes the ongoing debate over development, ecological preservation, and river restoration. Elwha’s beauty could serve as a “model of Pacific Northwest rivers, green pools, wide gravel beds with rich aerated riffles, rocks in the river bed, one that should roil with red and green spawning salmon.” With the deconstruction of two dams — one built in 1913, and the other in 1927 — the river is being restored to its former state. Crane’s history is a notable contribution to ecological literature.

— Adele Kleine, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden