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Return To The Salish Sea: Elwha Tribal Elder and Commercial Fisherman Robert Elofson

Parker Miles Blohm
Robert Elofson, a member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, worked for years as its Director of River Restoration. He has now returned to commercial fishing, with a boat in Port Angeles.

For many people in the Northwest, the undamming of the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula marked a dramatic turning point. The largest dam removal in the world at the time, it unleashed the lifeblood of a watershed that fronts on the Salish Sea.

Among the Salish people working on the project was Elwha tribal elder Robert Elofson, a man who dedicated many years to the effort as the tribe’s Director of River Restoration. He has returned to his passion and works as a commercial fisherman now, with a boat in Port Angeles.  

Cruising on Freshwater Bay near the mouth of the Elwha recently, he looked back toward the shoreline that connects the water to his tribe’s reservation lands.

“I’ve spent a great deal of my life down here on this beach, but the beach is brand new now,” he says with a laugh.

To see more photos and read more about Elofson's connection to the Salish Sea, visit our Return To The Salish Sea website.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to