On Thursday, the National Park Service began a three-year project to dismantle the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams in Washington's Olympic National Park, marking the start of the nation's biggest-ever dam-removal project. The dams were constructed in 1913 and 1927 and have supplied electricity to tens of thousands Olympic Peninsula residents. But they are also responsible for river bed erosion and have decimated the Elwha River's salmon population. On Saturday's, six live webcams at the top of Elwha Dam will stream the project's progress, and a moderately strenous trail allows visitors to the park a riverside view of the Elwha Dam's deconstruction. The Elwha's pre-dam salmon population during migration was 400,000; today it is 3,000. "We will witness a river coming back to life, with great benefits for people and the environment," said Bob Irvin, president of the conservation and river restoration organization American Rivers. The removal is expected to run through 2014 at a cost of $325 million.
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