Twenty years and $350 million after President George H.W. Bush first signed an act to restore Washington State's Elwha River, the process to bring down two gigantic dams has begun. That could save the Elwha’s population of salmon.

The dams have blocked fish from swimming upriver and salmon populations in the river have dwindled. The New York Times reports that Chinook salmon populations had been down to 3,000 fish in the Elwha because of the dams, but could now swell to almost 400,000.

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As part of the restoration project, the federal government helped fund the creation of new power sources to replace the dams, which generate enough electricity to power 14,000 homes. The dams should be fully removed by 2014.

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