Olympic National Park

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Anne Shaffer sits on the sandy shoreline of the Elwha River and looks around in amazement. Just two years ago, this area would have been under about 20 feet of water.

Removal of the two dams on the Elwha River has been temporarily halted because massive amounts of sediment released from above the dams have clogged a nearby city’s water treatment facilities.

Michael Murray

The American marten is a small elusive member of the weasel family. People trap them and sell their pelts on the fur market where they’re known as “sable.” Their numbers are healthy across places like Canada and northern parts of the US, but scientists worry that marten populations have severely declined in coastal mountain ranges -- like the Olympic National Forest -- but they don’t know for sure. A group of volunteers is working with scientists to help monitor the martens and gather data to help determine their future.

Scientists will soon head to the Olympic coast to evaluate a dock that washed ashore in a remote section of Olympic National Park. It could be debris from last year’s tsunami in Japan. It might even be as big as the gigantic piece of debris that showed up on Oregon’s coast in June. That dock weighed 188 tons.

Dave Workman with the Washington state Marine Debris Task Force tells KUOW’s Sara Lerner scientists need to see if invasive species might be hitching a ride on the dock. They also need to figure out how to remove it.