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Next on national parks Northwest story it's saving the old wall well and it's a destroyed river. But. There's no way it can ever come back like it was the latest efforts to remove a massive dam restore the water river. And save salmon in the heart of Olympic National Park. Also ahead repairing Mother Nature's wrath. The sound of those boulder smashing the roar of the water. The storm that devastated Mt. Rainier National Park. And how an army of volunteers have helped to restore it. Plus drinking cold snow water from a pin cart. Meet the so-called poet laureate of ecology how he found his inspiration. Deep in the North Cascades. Many people start writing poetry about love. I started writing poetry but. It's all next on national parks Northwest stories. Local production and broadcast of national parks Northwest stories is made possible by a
major grant from the Floyd and Dolores Jones Foundation and by Casey has nine members become a member today by going to KC D.S. 9.0 org. Thank you. Hello and welcome to national parks Northwest stories I met Rick at CERN up for the next half hour we'll be bringing you stories about the magnificent national parks here in Washington State stories about the land stories about the wildlife and stories about the people who use the national parks here and also work hard to protect them. We are bringing you this program as a companion to kids Burns new documentary The National Parks America's best idea which airs exclusively on PBS and Casey ts not the show is also a part of Casey
minds new environmental initiative be more green. Through our programs and stories we want to challenge you to explore the science policies and personal choices that shape our environment. We're more a case of DSM 9 dot org slash green. There are nearly 400 national parks in the United States 13 of them are here in Washington state from the San Juan Islands a national historic park in the north to the Nez Perce park in the in the northwest. We have one of the smallest parks in the nation in the Klondike Gold Rush located in Seattle's Pioneer Square and we have one of the newest historic sites the eagle Dale ferry dock on Bainbridge Island a memorial to the Japanese Americans forced to leave their homes during World War Two. Of course the three of us known of the parks in our state are the three biggest the North Cascades Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park. Thousands of people visit Olympic National Park every year which features one of the most
diverse ecosystems on the planet with beaches mountains valleys and thence rain forests all within the park boundaries cutting through the heart of the Olympic National Park is the Elwha River a lifeblood for plants animals salmon and lilies. People living in nearby Port Angeles now a major project is underway on the L law that will change the river for generations to come. Here's Jenny Cunningham. Olympic National Park inspires superlatives. The biggest. Greenest. Quietest way say that the the air looks green. And look at the river at the heart of these million acres. The elder law as it rushes from icy glaciers to salt water sea.
Tourist guides call it pristine. Well it's a destroyed river but not to go and no way it can ever come back like it was. Go in spent 70 years on the L Law. And he's here to tell you it used to be grand. But now there's something missing. Fish believe it or not. I noticed the fish were going down. When I was 16 years old. 100 years ago salmon runs on the el wall where the stuff of legend before 910 more than 400000 salmon returned each year to the El WA. Today fewer than 4000 salmon return. Here's why. Dams have reduced salmon habitat on the L-WOP from 70 miles to fewer than five at milepost four point nine in this deep pool that used to be a sacred site for the lower L-WOP tribe salmon slam up against crumbling concrete and rusting steel.
A few miles up the river there's a taller dam inside Olympic National Park a dam inside a national park. How could that happen. There is a whole different attitude. Everybody just knew. There was fish forever. In 1910 developer Thomas auld well promoted a plan to dam the wild L. walk. The dam was built without a fish ladder which was illegal but poor Angeles's founding fathers needed electricity to carve a civilized town out of the wilderness. It was very open at the foot to allow more people to be here and live here and here in 1907 crew submerge this canyon when they built the second dam that helped put Port Angeles on the map. In 2009 the dams continue to generate power but it's only a fraction of the electricity needed by one Port Angeles paper mill a
mill that's owned by a Japanese company now. And here at this intersection of untouched national park land and the old industrial age things are about to change. The dams are coming down. Oh I know. The feeling. We just wanted to make sure you're still paying attention. This is Hollywood's version of how the lower down will come tumbling down. And wouldn't that be a big damn deal. But that is not going to happen here and the reason is Celt 100 years of silt and sediment have piled up behind the dams. If crews remove the dams all at once that sediment would suffocate the fish in the river. We are taking the dams down in a controlled fashion.
Brian winter is the Park Service Manager of America's biggest dam removal project. The reservoir will be drained through that diversion channel that will allow the rest of the dam to be separated from the active river. That area will be pumped dry. Then the contractor can simply remove the concrete dam and all the film behind it. In time you will be able to tell that there was a dam here. Deconstruction will start in 2011. But there's plenty going on already. For it that's just kicking into high gear. Thanks to the federal government to the stimulus money or it's called America. Covering investment. 2000. Arrived around 54 million dollars specifically for projects that are a part of this greater our restoration project. The biggest preparation project is construction of two water treatment plants. This one is almost done during dam remove all the river will be dirtier than it is
currently. So protect the current users. We're building these water facilities to clean the water to drinking water standards so that the water coming out of there but it happens more than those remains as good or better. In the future than it is today. More work to be done to minimize flooding. Ironically the one group that's the most at risk the lower L-WOP tribe which has always supported removing the dams tribal elder Adeline Smith lives on the reservation which is at the mouth of the river. She knows the river will rise and expects flooding for her. It's a small price to pay to bring them back to the way she remembers it as a kid growing up on a farm that her parents owned on the river. That were so thick there that you could walk right on the back there when that happened. I think that happened. Why.
For seven thousand years the tribe lived off the bounty of the land where the Olympic mountains meet Puget Sound. Smith's grandfather told her about the day that all changed. He said he never got quite home yet when he could hear the trees breaking. The first dam was nearly completed when it broke in 1912 and the big head of water roared down the valley. The Indians built a few. Cattle. Compared to that figure dam removal will be easy. Whatever happens during demolition conservation groups and power companies will be watching. Nearly 80000 dams across America have passed their 50 year life expectancy. It's often cheaper to scrap one than to bring it in line with environmental and safety regulations. So this demolition could spawn more free flowing rivers if the L Law
Project reaches its goal. All the fish stocks swimming back from the brink of extinction. But it seems like. After you've had a hundred years of these two dams there wouldn't be enough fish when. We have enough fish of every stock in the lower river now or in the hatcheries are naturally spawning and we have genetic data that shows that there are the same fish that originated in there. So all we have to do is give them the opportunity to reproduce in the upper river. I personally never got official about 44 in the river. There are plenty of people who aren't so optimistic. Some trout fishermen predict the El WA will be a muddy mess for years and by the time they're fishable again. I'll be in. You know. You don't bottom to. Know tell me about this. You know you're thinking about of course would be a lot of much precious come down right. We're going to kind of there's going to be a lot of. Tough. Fish and after that muck I know that's that's open to a lot of debate. And that brings us back to Dick going higher you. Know not of
that ilk. Go and earn his living off this land as a logger and mill worker. He set the table with game from the mountains and fish from the rivers. Now he thinks it's time to give back to the land. No one's been. Years fighting to set the. Law. Free. And now that victory is right around the bend. It seems the river. Returns the favor. Oh. Oh. Don't you. Don't you get it. I get to be in these places. What more do you need. Removing the dams on the river is an example of undoing man's
damage to a national park. But sometimes Mother Nature is to blame. Like the massive storm in November 2006 a lot of people in western Washington remember that storm which caused serious flooding and knocked out power to thousands for weeks. The same storm devastated parts of Mount Rainier National Park leaving it closed for months. The task of restoring the park seemed almost insurmountable almost that is Leslie McKellar tells us about the people who met that challenge. It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time. 18 inches of rain in 36 hours. The sound of those boulder smashing the roar of the water road swept away an hundred yards swath. It was so loud that even standing just a few feet away if you screamed at the top of your lungs you could not be heard. Rivers and creeks roared over their banks. It was the smell of fresh earth. And. Christmas trees from all of
the broken branches and trees and dirt that was floating in the water. Five acres at Sunshine point campground. Gone. And that had to be like a knife going through butter when it happened because it happened overnight at some point and it probably happened relatively quickly. We lost part of our sewer line our utility lines our electrical lines were down. So essentially we were crippled. Roads are closed the park is closed. In the wake of the storm the park closed its gates and began the arduous task of assessing the damage. First estimate. Thirty six million dollars. But the massive damage to the park awoke an unexpected passion in the people of the northwest. We needed help. We knew that it was very obvious looking at the scope of what had happened here and we had a lot of people have very personal connections to this place wanted to help. Kevin Bach or Mt. Rainier is volunteer an outreach manager says he heard countless tales about why people felt inspired to help.
They'd say my grandmother's ashes are scattered scattered in the park and I feel like I'd like to contribute it is just as important to them to give back to this place as it was to those of us who are here. Since the flood in November of 2007. Thirty five hundred people have lent a hand in the recovery. One hundred fifty thousand volunteer hours have been clocked. Saving taxpayers over 3 million dollars. Much to the park surprise a lot of the help came from our younger generation. It's build my confidence and it's given me the opportunity to really you know get my hands dirty and really see what this you know whole conservation thing is about. With the help of a partnership. With that Student Conservation Association. We were able to almost double the number of people that we worked with. Hundreds of students left their iPods and cell phones behind to get out in the field.
Well they were the ones that were taking people out of the field. They were the ones who were training them they were the ones who were equipping them making sure that people understood what they need to do and could do it safely. I think that you benefit a lot from service too. You're not only giving back. Learning. About yourself and the hope that they spread are there. The vice president for the Student Conservation Association says it was primarily youth that spearheaded the volunteer movement. And I think what what the park learn from each other is that volunteers are. Extraordinary resources and I willing to work extraordinary hours and do extraordinary were probably stronger as the park was Relationships are stronger and all those volunteers who came here now have a different level of ownership and commitment to this place than they had before that. Also. Fortunately most recovery projects have been completed. But even two years later work remains.
There are 18 trail projects that are still under way including two major reroutes glacier basin and Wonderland above carbon river. According to the park's flood Specialist Paul Kennard flooding is a trend we're likely to see more of in the future. The actual floods we're getting are getting larger and more frequent. Mt. Rainier recent flood reflects a trend of warmer jet streams in the fall melting early season snowfall. And then if you add all the more recent data what used to be a 100 year event is actually happening every 14 years here. Unfortunately flooding is exacerbated because our rivers are filling up. The aggregation we call it a valley filling has increased substantially up to six to ten times what it used to be. More than 10 years ago. So the sort of double combination of more water and less ability of the river to actually pass it just means more flood problems.
The park is doing all it can to prepare for more frequent storms. The Rangers know that part of the majesty of Mt. Rainier is its untamed spirit. You're never ready for the next flood. We are as ready as you can be because we're actually fairly experienced at there. And you learn you take what the mountain gives you. The natural beauty of our national parks is enough to inspire almost anyone to become a poet. In fact more than a few famous writers and poets really did find their muse. After spending time here in the Pacific Northwest Leslie McClurg introduces us to Gary Snyder one of the famous beat generation writers who gave to much of his inspiration from spending time deep in the North Cascades National Park. Across rocks the meadows swarms of new flowers. Gary Snyder began his love affair with words in the wood pitch
moves on the food. Where the majesty of the North-West are his creativity made people start writing poetry about love. I started writing poetry because from an early age he was drawn to the mountains the cloud all of the West Coast peaks by the time I was 19 or 20 sider has deep local roots. My grandfather homesteaded in Kitsap County when it was still a territory during the summers of 1952 and 53 Snyder worked as fire lookout in the North Cascades down valley I smoked a three days heat. After five days rain. He says this region resonates with him. Every day. The landscape is different. The lightest different clouds are different. You see one distant range of mountains one day then the next you don't quite see it and you see another range of mountains because the light is there.
For Snyder. Life has always made sense. Off the grid in amongst the trees it was a little unhealthy for me I thought I could stay here all year. But he was also drawn to look inward attending both Reed College in Oregon and then the University of California at Berkeley for graduate work in Asian cultures. When I got to college you know people sneered because they were going to be intellectual. He studied the great masters of poetry like T.S. Eliot Wallace Stevens and William Butler Yeats. I read everything throughout the Renaissance and then I read almost everything in English language starting with Old English. At Berkeley Manor wax poetic with intellectuals like the writers Alan Ginsburg Kenneth Rexroth and Philip Whalen. He made a lasting impression on Jack Kerouac who based the counterculture hero of his book Dharma Bums on Snyder.
Like the other beat writers. Snyder developed a fascination with eastern philosophy. His curiosity led him to Japan. Perfect statement of emptiness. No other than for 15 years Snyder studied Zen Buddhism overseas. What I had learned about the study of Chinese. And the language he's called the poet laureate of ecology because his work challenges us to ask deeper environmental questions. The question we often deal with. Is what is it that drives the expansion and the growth so relentlessly in our poor developed world. Because. He suggests we return to simpler pleasures. Drinking cold snow water from a tin cup. He says he wants his work to be accessible. I get the flavor of the place. Or the
flavor of the job. Of the life of a certain kind of life of work that there will be people that can relate to it. Ultimately he hopes to inspire a deeper connection between people and the planet and not intellectual. But sensory physical. Smells touches tastes. Snyder's poetic voice was recognised in 1975 with a Pulitzer Prize for his text Turtle Island. The easy flow to his work seems as if it was written effortlessly. But Snyder says you also need a little luck. I think that poetry is like you can never assume you're going to win again. A lifelong conservationist he cries out rises up and stands facing toward the torrent and the mountain raises up both hands and shouts three times.
As we learn in Ken Burns documentary The National Parks America's best idea. One of the men who was instrumental in the creation and preservation of our National Parks was John Muir the father of the Sierra Club and helped preserve many wilderness areas including Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. John Wheeler died in 1914 but his spirit lives on in the body of a man named Elise that scn who performs a one man shows as the legendary conservationist. Recently Stetson came to Seattle and we caught a part of his show. I'm here to save him. Well just to bring a little spirit to the oak Asian and I'm perhaps to tell you a story of two of my days in the wilderness and in any case I'm always delighted to be able to saunter about one more time with my kindred spirits of the wilderness. Though I could not help but notice as I was sauntering through on my way here this evening that well then
parts of this wilderness it's becoming difficult to see the forest for the people. Have you notice now and have a surprised or saddened yes but never surprised to see Lord demand treating the natural world as if is if naturalness with the least natural thing in it is if a tree had no fruitful function until Lord man devised one for it. I said I want overheard a tourist day contemplating one of my kings have call yours in and musing on I say where we are now. I wonder how many out houses might be built from you on the train. Well not alone but it is all sun sea and so so what. When you weary of the crowds here abouts Well then simply go away go out go up. I would just go be flee perhaps you will find your spirit took that Denson somewhere. You can find out more about Lee's Stetson and his performances at John Muir lies dot com. Want to learn more about the national parks. Just go to KC TS nine dot org
and click on national parks. See a map of all the parks in Washington state. Get a list of recommended hikes in our area. Watch stories we've done about the national parks and find out ways you can become involved in our parks through activities and volunteer opportunities. You can even take a stewardship pledge to help preserve our national parks for generations to come. That's key. Yes nine dot org and click on national parks next time on national parks Northwest stories shrinking glaciers. We estimate we've lost about 50 percent of our glacier area in the last century. How global warming is already impacting one of our national parks and why some worry it may be too late to reverse it. Also of a man who took on the Olympics. It was a twenty seven mile walk to Fords. And there was no roads and really no trails. He settled his family in one of the most rugged places on the planet battling
National Parks: Northwest Stories
Episode Number
Big Dam Deal
Producing Organization
KCTS (Television station : Seattle, Wash.)
Contributing Organization
KCTS 9 (Seattle, Washington)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/283-52j6qc43).
This episode of National Parks: Northwest Stories features the dam removal project on the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, efforts to restore Mount Rainier National Park after severe storm damage, poet Gary Snyder, and John Muir portrayer Lee Stetson.
National Parks: Northwest Stories showcases stories about Washington states national parks: the land, the wildlife, and the people. It is a companion program to The National Parks: Americas Best Idea, a film by Ken Burns.
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Local Communities
Copyright 2009 KCTS 9 Television, All Rights Reserved
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Host: Cerna, Enrique
Interviewee: Snyder, Gary, 1930-
Performer: Stetson, Lee
Producer: Morris, Ethan
Producing Organization: KCTS (Television station : Seattle, Wash.)
Reporter: Cunningham, Jenny
Reporter: McClurg, Lesley
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: C-01148, national parks #101G, digibeta, 02/08/2011 (tape label)
Format: Digital Betacam
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:26:44
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “National Parks: Northwest Stories; 1; Big Dam Deal,” 2009-01-01, KCTS 9, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 16, 2019,
MLA: “National Parks: Northwest Stories; 1; Big Dam Deal.” 2009-01-01. KCTS 9, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 16, 2019. <>.
APA: National Parks: Northwest Stories; 1; Big Dam Deal. Boston, MA: KCTS 9, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from