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State endorses removal of Elwha River dams

SEATTLE - The Elwha River, which flows through the traditional territory of the Lower Elwha Klallam, once hosted a famous run of Chinook salmon, with some fish weighing more than 100 pounds.

Since the Elwha and Glines dams were completed in 1913 and 1927, salmon have been limited to inhabiting only the lower five miles of the river and those runs of large Chinook are gone. But the salmon may soon return.

The state Department of Ecology has certified the National Park Service's plan to remove the dams as meeting state and federal Clean Water Act standards. That clears the way for the park service to obtain other permits necessary to remove the dams.

This is reportedly the largest dam removal project in U.S. history and is the most important salmon recovery project in the state. When completed, the entire Elwha River will be free-flowing, and salmon and seagoing trout will have access to more than 70 miles of habitat previously blocked off from fish passage.

The removal of the dams will also increase the flow of sediment into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, re-establishing the flow of natural materials that historically helped maintain shorelines and beaches. This may in turn help reduce or reverse the erosion of coastlines and beaches, according to the state.

Construction of water treatment facilities to protect the freshwater supplies of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the city of Port Angeles will begin later this year. Dam removal will begin after water protection measures are completed, according to the state.

Tulalip Tribes commissioner named to climate change panel

SEATTLE - Terry Williams, commissioner of Fisheries and Natural Resources for the Tulalip Tribes, is one of 21 government and business leaders named by Gov. Christine Gregoire to the Washington Climate Change Challenge Advisory Team.

Other members include Jay Manning, state ecology director; Doug Sutherland, state lands commissioner; and Dennis McLerran, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency executive director.

Advisory team members will consider policies and strategies that may be adapted to ''reduce our state contribution to climate pollution, move away from our dependence on foreign oil and grow a clean energy economy,'' Gregoire said. All team meetings are public and a public comment period is provided.

The advisory team will break into working groups. The technical working groups will address transportation, energy supply, agriculture, forestry and residential, commercial and industrial issues. Preparation working groups will study the impacts on forest resources, human health, agriculture, water resources and shorelines. Recommendations will be submitted to Gregoire by February 2008.

Manning said he remembers hiking through the Cascades and standing on a glacier that no longer exists. ''It has melted away, just like at least three other neighboring glaciers in the Cascades,'' Manning said in a press release. ''This is just one small example of the kind of changes a warming planet will bring to the Northwest and we will need to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid losing more of our glaciers and snowfields.''

Muckleshoot teacher receives Horace Mann Award

SEATTLE - Wendy Rosen, who chairs the First Peoples' Education programs at Muckleshoot Tribal College in Auburn, received the prestigious Horace Mann Award from Antioch University Seattle on March 29.

Rosen has dedicated her professional career to enhancing the academic success of American Indians. Her efforts to recruit and retain Native education students have resulted in one of the nation's largest and most successful Native teacher credentialing programs.

''We can assist Native people so they can get a degree at a tribal school with Native faculty and assist them in meeting their own goals,'' Rosen said. ''Students who come here see their work as an opportunity to make changes. We offer the space to find opportunities to make a difference.''

Rosen said one of the greatest challenges for educators is overcoming prescriptive teaching methods, whose narrow focus negatively impacts students and teachers of color. ''People are being convinced we should teach one particular way,'' she said.

Rosen received the award in the Crystal Ballroom of the Washington Athletic Club in downtown Seattle. Ron Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan and a chief political analyst for KIRO Radio in Seattle, was keynote speaker.

Students help carve traditional Native canoe

SEATTLE - Students from IWASIL, a Native Boys and Girls club, are working with the United Indians of All Tribes and the Center for Wooden Boats to carve a traditional dugout canoe.

The project began Feb. 9 with a public celebration and blessing.

The cedar log for the canoe is 4 feet in diameter, 50 feet long and more than 600 years old. The log was donated to UIAT by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation nearly 30 years ago to be carved into a canoe for the Seattle community.

This project is the fifth of its kind for Saaduuts, Haida, the CWB artist-in-residence. For the past nine years, Saaduuts has carved canoes with school groups around Seattle; several of the canoes have been gifted to Native communities.

In 2004, Saaduuts and Alternative School No. 1 completed a 40-foot canoe, ''Ocean Spirit,'' that was given to the Haida people in Alaska. Saaduuts is working on a smaller canoe, the 26-foot ''Steve Philipp,'' that will remain at the center.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.

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