A River Recovers

Life bursts out of the mud, Elwha River

For months I have been tracking the recovery of the Elwha River in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. After the removal of two obsolete dams that have been barriers for salmon for a century, the river is now running free again, from headwaters to the sea.

One of the big questions has been how quickly the river valley would recover. I’m happy to report that the lake-bottom sediments that have been exposed are already bursting with life. Moss, flowers, even trees, are already taking a foothold. What remains to be seen, however, is how well they do when the summer drought (yes we have a drought here in the NW every summer!)

To document the process, I go to the Elwha every week, photographing anything that catches my eye. In this image, I was struck by the wonderful patterns made by small plants just getting started in the mud along the river’s bank. I used a very wide lens to get close, and create a sense of immediacy. But the beautiful patterns are all Mother Nature’s handiwork.

Nikon D3, 17-35mm lens