Rivers and Streams


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Other Links: Elwha River Resotration


Olympic's Circulatory System
Your body transfers nutrients through a network of streams and rivers we call arteries and veins. Arteries and veins feed your cells just like rivers feed Olympic's forests. Rivers carry nutrients to the forests by way of fish, insects and other animals that live in this aqueous world. These animals are the red-blood cells of Olympic's rivers. Anadromous fish, such as salmon, play a crucial role in feeding the forests. They spend much of their life at sea building up strength and energy for their return trip home. After two to four years they "smell" their way back upriver to the clean, cool beds of gravel to spawn. After laying thousands of eggs, salmon die. Their carcasses line the riverbanks and supply a wealth of nourishment to forest animals. Thus, the ocean's bounties are circulated back into the forest community.

What happens when we clog our rivers' arteries with dams? What happens to a river's ability to transfer nutrients from the oceans to the forests? Rivers face many new hazards in today's world: fishery reductions, habitat destruction from logging along a river's edge, run-off pollution from roads and development, water use from growing populations, water flow shifts due to climate change. Olympic National Park's rivers are protected from some of these impacts, but further protection depends on you.

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