USGS Science to Support the Elwha River Restoration Project
Several USGS scientists are leading monitoring and analyses of the Elwha River system. These scientists include:
Chris Curran – river sediment
Amy East — river geomophology
Jeff Duda — salmon populations
Jason Dunham — fish ecology
Guy Gelfenbaum — coastal sediment
Kurt Jenkins — wildlife
Chris Konrad — river hydrology and sediment
Chris Magirl — river sediment
Steve Rubin — coastal ecosystems
Patrick Shafroth — vegetation
Jonathan Warrick — coastal change
There are a number of partnering agencies, tribes and groups that coordinate monitoring and analyses. These include:
Chris Curran is a hydrologist studying sediment transport and the use of sediment-surrogate technologies in western Washington rivers. Chris developed sediment-discharge relations for quantifying Elwha River sediment load prior to dam removal (http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5221/) and his team has since installed hydroacoustic, LISST, and turbidity instruments for monitoring suspended-sediment concentration and particle size during the dam-removal process. For more information, see https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/christopher-curran.
Dr. Amy East studies rates and patterns of channel change along the lower Elwha River, using field surveys and historical aerial photographs. During dam removal, she is leading a team that will compare channel behavior downstream of the dams with evolution of the natural channel upstream of Lake Mills. For more information on Dr. East's work, please watch the video, “Running Rivers—a profile of geologist Amy East”, and see her USGS web page at https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/amy-east.
Jeff Duda is a research ecologist for the Western Fisheries Research Center. He has led studies in the Elwha River estuary, assessing whole river distribution and abundance patterns of fish populations, assessing levels of water nutrients and stable isotopes across aquatic trophic levels, establishing a fish weir for counting adult salmonids entering the Elwha River, and describing the aquatic macroinvertebrate and periphyton communities throughout the Elwha River watershed. His work is focused on assessing the ecological responses to dam removal and recolonization by salmon. For more information, see https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/jeffrey-duda.
Dr. Jason Dunham studies fish distributions in the Elwha River, with a focus on native bull trout and invasive brook trout. His work is focused on understanding how species distributions and invasions relate to habitat conditions within the river and its floodplain. Expected changes following dam removal include altered floodplain morphology and colonization by returning Pacific salmon, lamprey, and steelhead trout. The current baseline of data will allow us to evaluate how dam removal affects fish habitat and species interactions. For more information about Dr. Dunham, see his USGS Professional Page at: http://fresc.usgs.gov/AquaticEcologyLaboratory/.
Dr. Guy Gelfenbaum is a coastal oceanographer with the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center. His active research involves the mechanics of sediment transport, modeling coastal and estuarine sediment transport and medium-scale and large-scale coastal change, estuarine and coastal oceanography, coastal geology, and coastal tsunami hazards. Guy is currently a member of the Nearhsore Science Team of the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project, and has been a member of the Science Panel of the Puget Sound Partnership and Governor Locke's Coastal Erosion Task Force. For more information about Dr. Gelfenbaum, see his USGS Professional Page at: https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/guy-gelfenbaum.
Dr. Kurt Jenkins studies the ecology of mammalian wildlife in National Parks of the Pacific Northwest. His studies of the Elwha River focused on describing mammalian community composition and species distribution patterns in the riparian zone along the Elwha River before dam removal and fisheries restoration. He and his colleagues studied amphibian and mammalian communities to serve as a baseline for understanding how riparian wildlife communities will change following dam removal and fisheries restoration. Kurt can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Chris Konrad has coordinated and led studies of streamflow, sediment transport, and river metabolism on the Elwha River. These investigations have produced a model of sediment transport in the river spanning dam removal and recovery, instrumentation for measuring concentrated suspended sediment in the river, and baseline information on sediment transport and geomorphology of the river mouth. Additional information can be found on-line at the USGS Washington Water Science Elwha project page: http://wa.water.usgs.gov/projects/elwha/.
Chris Magirl is a fluvial geomorphologist researching sediment transport and geomorphology in mountain rivers. He is particularly interested in river response to heavy sediment loads like those anticipated on the Elwha River following dam removal. For more information about Chris, see his USGS Professional Page at: https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/christopher-magirl.
Steve Rubin leads the scuba dive survey inventories of the marine biota offshore of the Elwha River delta. These surveys characterize the abundance and diversity of marine life and will be repeated annually during and following dam removal to track changes to the marine resources.
Dr. Patrick Shafroth studies the ecology of riparian vegetation along the Elwha River and estuary, including the structure and composition of riparian forests, and the diversity of riparian flora. His work is aimed at understanding how changes to sediment and woody debris inputs to the river following dam removal will influence channel change, floodplain sedimentation, and the dynamics of native and introduced riparian vegetation. For more information about Dr. Shafroth, see his USGS Staff Page at: https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/patrick-shafroth.
Dr. Jonathan Warrick studies shoreline changes along the Elwha River delta, coastal habitats offshore and within the delta, and the movement of sediment through these coastal systems. His work is focused on understanding how these coastal systems will be modified from new supplies of sediment following dam removal. For more information about Dr. Warrick, see his USGS Professional Page at: https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/jonathan-warrick.