IV. Preparation

For nearly 100 years, salmon have been blocked from spawning upstream in all but the lower five miles of the river. In 2012, the two dams on the Elwha will be removed, allowing for the return of salmon to the watershed.

High School students are invited to participate in gathering baseline data before the dams are removed, and in restoration efforts afterwards, through the efforts of Olympic Park Institute (OPI), an environmental education center on Lake Crescent. READ MORE.

EHHS became aware of this opportunity when one teacher applied and was accepted to be part of a Washington state teacher consortium, funded by the National Park Service and OSPI, to become familiar with the project and develop curriculum to be distributed on websites for use by other schools. [http://www.elwharivereducation.org/] This connection offered some enhanced activities related to the removal/restoration project including interactive video conferencing with other consortium schools and with experts in the environmental, political, and multicultural aspects of the project.

In order to promote enthusiasm for our participation in the project, two teachers took a group of students to OPI in September 2005 for a daylong introduction to the project. It was a brilliant and informative fall day on the river! After visiting the OPI facility, they toured the Glines Canyon Dam, known as the “Upper Dam,” and received an overview of the whole project. They took notes and journaled their initial reactions.

The students then were introduced to three different research protocols on the Elwha River below the Glines Dam. Students rotated through the three stations in order to experience each one: a) temperature readings on the river at various flow levels; b) transect of the beach in order to catalogue size of rocks (related to specie-specific preference for spawning); and c) water quality assessment by macro invertebrate inventory.

Originally we had planned to integrate the Elwha project into the ninth grade curriculum, and have students follow its development through their four years. What we didn’t foresee was that our enthusiasm would not prove contagious for all of these students. We feel student voice and choice is an essential aspect to having engaged learners.

That led us to Plan B, which was to open up the adventure to the whole school and have students apply for the opportunity to participate. This was hugely successful. We ended up with a multi-age group of students who were solidly committed to the idea of participating in an historic study of the possible return of the salmon through the removal of these two dams on the river.

We devised a plan in which every Tuesday afternoon, 1:10 to 2:50, became Pull-Out Period for all of EHHS. This allowed us to meet with this diverse group of students on a weekly basis. We all continued to incorporate environmental studies into our regular classes, following the theme of Global Sustainability that EHHS nourishes.

Preparation lessons:

  • Students studied the issues related to the dam removal, participated in video conferences with other schools and with experts involved in the Project
  • Listened to guest speakers related to river restoration

Lessons specific to this project were developed and taught in Social Studies, English and Science to increase student appreciation and knowledge in specific academic content areas:

  • A local engineer spoke to the science classes on his previous work developing potential fish ladders for the Elwha River dams.
  • In Biology, students were introduced to the concepts and practices of ecological research through class and local fieldwork.
  • In English and Social Studies students were taught an Issue Analysis process in order to understand the political and cultural controversies surrounding the removal of the dams.
  • Other lessons developed by the Teacher Consortium were used in our classrooms [http://www.elwharivereducation.org/].

Grade-level math lessons also augmented the project. One concept became clear as our studies proceeded: this project wasn’t just about field science related to the removal of the dams and restoration of salmon to the watershed. It also had important cultural, political, and economic implications, especially for the native Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, whose reservation is at the mouth of the river. [http://www.elwha.org/River%20Restoration.htm]
Other good sources of information can be found at these excellent sites: [http://www.americanrivers.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AMR_Elwha]

Sub Pages List

Comments are closed.