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Honoring a national park or national park unit (national monument, historic site, recreation area, etc.) in the West that opened an outstanding addition or renovation between January 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014.
Dam removal at Olympic National ParkLast September, biologists with snorkels discovered three silvery chinook in the upper reaches of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park—the first time that salmon had been spotted so far upstream in more than a century. It was a triumph both small and enormous: The trio swam past the site of two former dams (the 110-foot Elwha and the 210-foot Glines Canyon) that were both recently demolished as part of the largest dam removal in history. Our editors were won over by the scope of the undertaking, ambition, and potential environmental legacy. The destruction was decades in the making, but the ecological impact has been almost immediate. Salmon, which feed bears, bald eagles, and even orcas that ply the Strait of Juan de Fuca, can now swim unimpeded from the ocean toward the source of the Elwha, 45 miles away. The National Park Service estimates that fish populations could surge from 3,000 to 300,000 in the next 20 to 30 years. $15/vehicle.