Though a bit of rubble remains -- rubble which will be cleaned up in the coming weeks -- the river is now free to cut its own course, free of man-made obstacles. In addition to returning to a natural pathway to the sea, its water levels will also normalize.
"It's done," Barb Maynes, spokeswoman for Olympic National Park, told the Peninsula Daily News. "We accomplished what was planned."
The accomplishment didn't come cheap. The cost of the restoration project, which began in 2011 and will continue through 2016, stands at $325 million. The Glines Canyon Dam, built in 1927, was one of two major dams clogging the Elwha. The removal of Elwha Dam, built in 1913, was completed in 2012.
The removal of the two dams -- which ecologists say will facilitate the return of all five native salmon species -- has been heralded by the local Native American tribe.
"It's a good day. It was the last spot [blocking the] fish to access the rest of the river," Robert Ellefson, the Elwha restoration manager for the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, told the local paper. "It has been the dream of tribal members for a hundred years."
In addition to enabling a healthier salmon run, the newly unblocked river will also ferry once-trapped sediment down to its mouth and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, replenishing beaches along Crescent Bay and Ediz Hook, which have long been choked of fresh sands.
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