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Lake Aldwell
Lake Alwell after dam removal.jpg
Lake bed and river after Elwha Dam removal
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Location Olympic Peninsula, Clallam County, Washington
Coordinates 48°04′50″N 123°34′15″W / 48.08056°N 123.57083°W / 48.08056; -123.57083
Type reservoir
Primary inflows Elwha River
Primary outflows Elwha River
Catchment area 315 sq mi (820 km2)
Basin countries United States
Surface area 270 acres (110 ha)
Max. depth 94 ft (29 m)
Surface elevation 188 ft (57 m)

Lake Aldwell was a reservoir located about 4.9 miles (7.9 km) from the mouth of the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. The reservoir was created in 1913 behind the Elwha Dam, which was fully removed in 2012. The Elwha Dam blocked 70+ miles of fish habitat for Pacific Salmon and steelhead within Olympic National Park.

Fish population

Lake Aldwell was home to a population of kokanee sockeye salmon from Indian Creek and Lake Sutherland which, unable to access the Pacific Ocean, used the reservoir as their habitat during their adult lives. These salmon accessed the reservoir via Indian Creek and spawned in Lake Sutherland, just below Lake Crescent. The lake also contained bull trout, rainbow trout, and a population of introduced eastern brook trout.

Ecosystem restoration

In 2012, the Elwha Ecosystem Restoration project removed the Elwha Dam and began to restore the fisheries of the river. Immediately after the draining of Lake Aldwell, revegetation crews began planting native vegetation to stabilize the slopes from erosion and speed up ecological restoration. It is expected that the fish populations that reside above the lake will return to their original anadromous lifestyle shortly thereafter.

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