If you’ve been following the Center for Whale Research (CWR) in recent years, you are aware of the federal government agencies that choose not to remove the salmon-killing Lower Snake River dams. These four dams were orchestrated at huge taxpayer expense. They caused catastrophic environmental damage, damning the Snake River ecosystem’s salmon to extinction, thereby threatening our beloved Southern Resident killer whales with the same fate. Thanks to generous grant support, CWR spent over $250,000 on a campaign of truth about the fiscal and environmental disaster of the Snake River debacle. These truths were met with propaganda from the U.S. government and ineffectual courses of action by the Washington State government’s Orca Task Force.
So, the Center for Whale Research decided to move our conservation efforts in a new direction, to do something positive in support of the Southern Resident orcas: we became landowners along the Washington State’s Elwha River . . . with a noble purpose. In October 2020, we leaped into the Elwha River recovery efforts by purchasing a 45-acre ranch bordering both sides of the river, just north of the Olympic National Park boundary. The ranch, smack in the middle of the recovering Elwha Valley habitat, is named BIG SALMON Ranch.
BIG SALMON Ranch is nestled along both shores of the middle mainstream Elwha River, between the former Mills and Aldwell lakebeds created by the one-time Elwha River dams. This stretch of the mainstream river is now where a majority of the remnant native Chinook salmon spawn. CWR proposes to keep this Elwha ecosystem habitat in an undisturbed, non-resource-extraction condition in perpetuity so that Chinook salmon can recover to pre-dam levels of 25,000-33,000 returning adults in the coming decades.