by Derek Jones
We erect dams assuming they are eternal, as if they’ll never topple over or be dismantled or fill with sediment or lose their financial rationale. Yet all dams will die. . . They’ll be reminders of an ancient time when humans believed they could vanquish nature, and found themselves vanquished instead.
— Jacques Leslie, from “Deep Water, the Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment”
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY if I asked if you knew that the nation’s second largest ecological restoration project was happening right now only a 2 ½ hour drive from Seattle? Would you be able to name the project? If given a map of the Puget Sound Region, would you be able to point out where the Elwha River is? How many of your students could do the same? The removal of two dams on the Elwha River provides students with a fascinating case study that contains elements of a wide swath of topics covered in, and out of, the classroom; engineering, social studies, ecology, mathematics, history, and geology among others. It is up to educators to make sure that such an enormous and complex project with such far-reaching implications does not go by without being appropriately utilized as a teaching tool. (more…)