Author:
Elsie Mitchell
Subject:
U.S. History, Hydrology
Material Type:
Unit of Study
Level:
Middle School, High School
Tags:
  • Climate Change
  • ClimeTime
  • Hydroelectric Dams
  • Indigenous People's way of knowing
  • Socratic Seminar
  • biology-fisheries
  • climetime
  • indigenous-people-s-way-of-knowing
  • life science
  • life-science
  • river health
  • river-health
  • salmon
  • socratic-seminar
  • wa-science
  • wa-social-studies
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Text/HTML

    Education Standards

    Should we remove the Electron Dam?

    Should we remove the Electron Dam?

    Overview

     

    This inquiry unit leads students through the different perspectives behind a decision to have a dam removed. This unit looks at similar Washington state dam removal decisions as well as the complex issue of having the Election dam removed near Puyallup, WA. Students will be introduced to the stories and traditional ways of knowing about salmon that the Puyallup Tribe has built their culture upon. Then they will explore the science behind hydroelectricity and build models to discover how carbon neutral energy is gathered through hydro dams. This inquiry unit ends with students researching different perspectives surrounding the current (2021) decision to remove the Electron dam including: the Tribe’s Fishery department, the ecosystem, the city council, the fishermen and the hydro-electrical company who currently owns the dam. With their research, students will do a socratic seminar to mimic the court case lawsuit that is ongoing against the Electron Dam. 

    A Civics Climate Science Unit about the complex issues surrounding dams, tribes and salmon.

     

    ClimeTime Inquiry[a]

    Should we remove the Electron Dam?

    "Elwha Dam Removal" by visionshare is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

     

    Supporting Questions

    1. What is the significance of the Puyallup River and salmon to the Puyallup Tribe, both culturally and practically?  
    2. Why were hydro dams built and how do they help in the fight against climate change?
    3. How can the removal of the Electron Dam benefit the sovereignty of the Puyallup Tribe and the ecosystem?      

     

    ClimeTime Inquiry

     

    Compelling Question
    StandardsSocial Studies Standards:E1: Understands that people have to make choices between wants and needs and evaluates outcomes of those choices.E1.6-8.2 Evaluate alternative approaches or solutions to current economic issues of Washington state in terms of costs and benefits for different groups.G2: Understands human interaction with the environmentG2.6-8.3 Explain and analyze how the environment has affected people and how human actions modify the physical environment, and in turn, how the physical environment limits or promotes human activities in Washington state in the past or present.NGSS:MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
    Staging the Compelling QuestionWhat was the impact of damming the Elwha River? https://vimeo.com/40519851Watch video to hear the stories from tribal members about what the stream was like before the dam and now after.

     

    Supporting Question 1 Supporting Question 2 Supporting Question 3  
    What is the significance of the Puyallup River and salmon to the Puyallup Tribe culturally and practically? Why and how are hydro dams built and how do they help in the fight against climate change? How can the removal of the Electron Dam benefit the sovereignty of the Puyallup Tribe and the ecosystem?   
    Formative
    Performance Task
     FormativePerformance Task FormativePerformance Task  
    Participation and Reflection in the First Salmon Ceremony Fall or Spring and present on significance. Built a model of a renewable energy source. Present on how renewable energy sources are better for the climate change crisis. Roles of Stakeholders Assignment  
    Featured Sources Featured Sources Featured Sources  
    Source A: First Salmon Ceremony PurposeSource B: Article on Puyallup Tribe’s First Salmon CeremonySource C: Story of why the Puyallup Tribe are called the Salmon People Source A: Renewable Energy Kit Source B: Article on Renewable EnergySource C: The Purpose of Hydro dams Source A: Example of how the Wynoochee river dam affect nearby tribesSource B: Elwha Dam RemovalSource C: Environmental Benefits to the Removal of the Elwha DamSource D: The downside of Dams Article  

     

    Summative Performance Task ARGUMENT Socratic Seminar Discussion: Two options for argument, one being yes we should remove the dam and two being no we should not remove the dam.
    EXTENSIONStudents create signs to participate in support of the Puyallup Tribe’s case against the Electron Dam.(In spring of 2022 there is a court date for this case that students could potentially be a part of the protest.)
    Taking Informed ActionUNDERSTAND ASSESS ACT

     

     

    Overview

    Inquiry Description

    This inquiry unit leads students through the different perspectives behind a decision to have a dam removed. This unit looks at similar Washington state dam removal decisions as well as the complex issue of having the Election dam removed near Puyallup, WA. Students will be introduced to the stories and traditional ways of knowing about salmon that the Puyallup Tribe has built their culture upon. Then they will explore the science behind hydroelectricity and build models to discover how carbon neutral energy is gathered through hydro dams. This inquiry unit ends with students researching different perspectives surrounding the current (2021) decision to remove the Electron dam including: the Tribe’s Fishery department, the ecosystem, the city council, the fishermen and the hydro-electrical company who currently owns the dam. With their research, students will do a socratic seminar to mimic the court case lawsuit that is ongoing against the Electron Dam.

    This inquiry unit will take up to 20 x 50 minute class periods to teach, including a field trip to the Electron dam and the First Salmon Ceremony (most tribes on the coast hold these ceremonies). Teachers are encouraged to look at their local tribe’s river and local hydro dams to maximize relevant perspective on this issue of dams.

    Structure of the Inquiry

    In addressing the compelling question “Should the Electron Dam be Removed?” students work through a series of supporting questions, formative performance tasks, and featured sources in order to construct an argument with evidence while acknowledging competing perspectives.


     

     

     

    Staging the Compelling Question

    What was the impact of Undamming the Elwha? https://vimeo.com/40519851

    Undamming the Elwha tells of the Elwha River being dammed and the eventual removal of the dam. The story reveals the need for electricity in the new community of Port Angeles and the impact on the Klallam People and their dependence on the salmon.

    The removal of the Elwha Dam and the subsequent effects will help students conclude the pros and cons of the removal of the Electron Dam.


     

     

    Supporting Question 1

     

    Supporting QuestionWhat is the significance of the salmon to the Puyallup Tribe culturally and practically?
    Formative Performance TaskStudents will first hear the story of why the Puyallup Tribe are called the Salmon People. Students will then participate in the First Salmon Ceremony and reflect on its significance and then they will roleplay the story to retell it.
    Featured SourcesSource A: First Salmon Ceremony PurposeSource B: Article on Puyallup Tribe’s First Salmon CeremonySource C: Story of Why the Puyallup Tribe are Called Salmon People audio file

    Reasoning for this Assignment:

    The river must remain in good health in order for the Salmon People to survive. The culture, major food source, fishing (financial support, skill being passed down through generations of fisherman), and the ecosystem that is directly connected to the Puyallup River would be threatened if the river continued to be polluted. This assignment links directly to the issues coming down from the Electron Dam including pollution and illegal building practices.

    Formative Performance Task:

    Students will use the First Salmon Ceremony information and the Salmon People Story to write a play and role play the story to be videotaped and archived. Using the articles on the environmental impact of the Electron Dam the play could continue through the ages where environmental pollution becomes a threat to a way of life.


     


     

    Supporting Question 2

     

    Supporting QuestionWhy and how are hydro dams built and how do they help in the fight against climate change?
    Formative Performance TaskStudents will build a  model of a renewable energy source.Then they will present on how renewable energy sources are helping in the fight against climate change.
    Featured SourcesSource A: Renewable Energy Kit Source B: Article on Renewable EnergySource C: The Purpose of Hydro dams

    Reasoning for this Assignment:

    Students first learned the significance of salmon to the Puyallup Tribe and in this assignment students will learn how hydro dams create electricity and they will do this by reading about the process as well as creating a model of a renewable resource. In order for students to hear why hydro dams create energy that does not create carbon emissions. Students will learn the perspective of the hydro companies and how hydro dams are carbon neutral.

    Formative Performance Task:

    Students will build a model of a renewable energy source and present how that model creates electricity. They will also present that energy source’s pros and cons towards the environment.


     

     

    Supporting Question 3

     

    Supporting QuestionHow can the removal of the Electron Dam benefit the sovereignty of the Puyallup Tribe and the ecosystem?
    Formative Performance TaskPrepare to take the role of a stakeholder: Students will take the role of a stakeholder and research evidence to present to the city when debating whether or not the dam should be removed.
    Featured SourcesSee Appendix AHow Dams Hurt Rivers  Puyallup Tribe Court Battle ArticleExample of how the Wynoochee river dam affect nearby tribesElwha Dam Removal Environmental Benefits to the Removal of the Elwha DamHistory of the Elwha Dam

    Reasoning for this Assignment:

    The discussion to remove a dam is complex due to the opposing views of the number of people directly involved and affected by a dam. It is important for students to understand the multiple perspectives of the stakeholders in a resource such as a hydrodam and the surrounding river.

    Formative Performance Task:

    Students will read articles and gather evidence from the perspective of their stakeholder to prepare for the socratic seminar. While students read the articles they will be marking the text (AVID strategy) as well as taking detailed notes answering the questions including: What does the stakeholder have to gain if the dam is removed and if it is not removed? What is the strongest argument that supports your stakeholder’s views based on evidence from articles? Is there any way your stakeholder could come to an agreement (compromise) and what would your stakeholder require in that agreement?


     

    Summative Performance Task

    Students will have done research into one stakeholder assignment in this lawsuit between the Puyallup Tribe and the Electron Hydro Dam.  In this performance task they have to be able to enter into a Socratic Seminar with evidence and arguments to support why they think the dam should or should not be removed from the perspective of the stakeholder they researched. To prepare for this socratic seminar, students will have to prepare questions to ask the opposition as well as ways to follow up on anticipated questions from the other stakeholders. Students will be graded on evidence gathered, delivered and communicated.

    Students’ arguments will likely vary but could include any of the following:

    Evidence for Removing the Dam

    Yes- By removing the dam it will restore the ecosystem to allow salmon to be reunited with spawning grounds. This will encourage salmon to not be endangered. Without salmon the community all around (Puyallup tribe and commercial, sport fisherman) would lose a historical natural resource. Dams control the flow of the river which has several repercussions.

    Perspective of Tribe and/or Elder: The tribal council does not trust the Electron dam company to protect fish as they have proven, based on their response from the artificial turf situation last spring (Crowe, May 21, 2021).

    Students could interview an elder or Tribal Council person for a first hand perspective.

    Perspective of the Fishermen: Fishermen rely on a healthy river to provide enough fish to sustain a profitable business as well as feed one's family.

    Students could interview a fisherman and/or a representative from the Northwest Fisheries Commission for a first hand perspective.

    Perspective of Fisheries:

    If the dam is allowed to open the salmonids could be sucked into the diversion dam and be harmed or killed which will cause further damage to the endangered population of steelhead, chinook salmon and bull trout. In addition, the fast flowing waters will cause the vulnerable steelhead redds that were recently found by Puyallup tribes fishery biologists, to be washed away.

    Also, the fish could consume the black plastic pieces as they are small sizes that look like food and choke or die from toxins in the plastic. If the dam continues to exist then what other disasters will come in the future from the owner who is not following the environmental laws that the hydro company legally agreed to.  When the plastic turf and plastic pieces reach the Puget Sound, other animals will be threatened by an increased amount of plastic in the waters. The Puyallup Tribe’s biologists are still finding plastic crumbs and artificial turf as recent as May 2021, a whole year after the disaster happened and the company committed to cleaning the turf out of the river.

    Despite the Electron Hydro stating that they are taking the concerns of the Puyallup Tribe and general public’s concern “very seriously” they have not once stated that they are interested in protecting salmonid endangered species.

    Perspective of the Anti-Dam Activists

    Dams in general gather crucial sediment at the reservoir for the dam instead of dispersing it downstream the meandering channel (Davenport, 2012 ). Downstream a dam, the river is starved of its structural materials and cannot provide habitat for riparian species such as salamanders, amphibians and salmonids. Dams destroy the habitat above and below their stopping of the flow of water. Dams have flooded land areas the size of California, displaced as many people as in Germany, they turn freshwater into the ecosystem most threatened by species extinction (the Guardian). Though dams were built in many countries to provide irrigation systems to support poor or impoverished nations, they have been improperly maintained which has caused damage to agriculture causing even more poverty in those locations (the Guardian). Not only have they caused damage to farms but not properly built dams can break and in 1975 the Banqiao Dam killed an estimated 17100 people and have killed many more due to improper maintenance.

    Evidence for Not Removing the Dam

    No- Climate change is getting worse, non-fossil fueled energy is crucial to our future getting to a net zero-carbon use-age. Taking the control of the water away may cause housing developments to flood, farming communities lose their farms, roads will flood and we will lose easy access to parts of Puyallup. Not to mention our school would be flooded.

    Perspective of Electron Hydro Company 

    The dam is meant to be a renewable resources community partner in the fight against climate change. The dam can power 20,000 homes. When the dam is renovated it will allow the salmon to pass by the dam unharmed. We are spending $15 million dollars to renovate the dam to address the concerns of the tribe and general public. Climate change is getting worse, non-fossil fueled energy is crucial to our future getting to a net zero-carbon use-age. Taking the control of the water away may cause housing developments to flood, farming communities lose their farms, roads will flood and we will lose easy access to parts of Puyallup. Not to mention Chief Leschi Schools would be flooded.


     

    Perspective of the City (buyers)

    If the Electron dam can provide the surrounding communities with green, renewable electricity at an affordable cost then the Electron dam needs to stay. If we put strict enforced boundaries around the Electron Hydro company then we hope to ensure that the company will follow all the concerns of the Puyallup Tribe and public concerns. The hydro dam will save the city money because the electricity coming from this dam will make it so we do not have to outsource our needs of electricity from other dams. This will make it so Washington can continue to build a healthy economy for all of its population. Dams generate one-sixth of the world’s electricity and irrigate 1/7th of our food crops.

     

     

     

     


     

    Supporting Question 1

    Featured Source A: First Salmon Ceremony Purpose

     

    The first salmon ceremony celebrated the arrival of the salmon run. The first fish caught was ritually sliced, small pieces of it were distributed among the people and eaten, and the carcass was returned to the water accompanied by prayers and thanks.

    Tribal members gather each May to celebrate the return of the salmon. Drummers and singers welcomed the first Chinook, one of six caught just upriver that morning, as fishermen carried it up the riverbank on a stretcher-shaped cedar plank covered in sword ferns. Fisherman Steven Dillon carefully filleted the black-and-silver fish, its bright red flesh to be cooked and shared among the community, the rest returned to the river.

    Source: https://nwifc.org/video-treaty-tribes-honor-first-salmon-bless-fishermen/ 

     

    Supporting Question 1

    Featured Source B: Article on Puyallup Tribe’s First Salmon Ceremony 

     

    This article describes that the First Fish Ceremony was to show respect to the salmon. “The respect you have is the respect you show to them, your visitor,” Dobie Tom said. “The visitor (salmon) will go back into the Sound and tell the rest of their family how he was respected.”

     

    Another article not included here includes the following quote to be understood with the above article. “We’ve welcomed our first salmon in an honorable way,” Puyallup Tribe cultural director Connie McCloud said as she led the ceremony. “When Mr. Dillon filleted the fish, the head, the back, the tail was kept whole. So this salmon will return to the water and tell the story of what she has witnessed today.”

     

    Source:

    https://nwtreatytribes.org/puyallup-tribal-news-first-fish-ceremony-exemplifies-salmons-significance-to-tribe/

     

    https://www.nwpb.org/2018/05/22/how-the-puyallup-tribe-brings-salmon-home/ 

     

                   


     

     

    Supporting Question 1

    Featured Source C:Story of the Salmon People

     

    This is a story about why tribe’s perform a first salmon ceremony and how it is an important ceremony to begin the fishing season.

    https://omsi.edu/exhibitions/row/docs/ROW-Salmon-Story.pdf 

     


     

    Supporting Question 2

    Featured Source A:Renewable Energy Kit

     

    Students will learn about the difference between renewable energy types and create a model with these kits.

    Source: https://www.carolina.com/fuel-cell-technology/renewable-energy-education-set/759250.pr?utm_medium=prod_recs&utm_source=internal&utm_campaign=pdp 

    Supporting Question 2

    Featured Source B:Article on Renewable Energy

     

    Students will mark the text with this article, and take focussed notes on the different types of renewable energy. This article discusses many different types of renewable energy as well as simple ways that a person can conserve energy.

    Source: https://newsela.com/read/elem-sci-energy-facts/id/28499/?collection_id=2000000398&search_id=6ea365ca-c507-4280-b57b-f4e15a364d35 

    Supporting Question 2

    Featured Source C: The dam dilemma

     

    Students will watch this video and take notes on why we need dams and how we can use innovation to avoid the removal of all hydro dams. Students will list the innovations that are already in use from this video and reflect on how those innovations help the issues that dams present.

    Source: https://youtu.be/BmG5OzIW5_8 


     

    Supporting Question 2

    Featured Source D:  A Curriculum to Draw from to teach about Dams

     

    This resource has many lessons depending on how deep a teacher wants to go into the physics of dams. Bare minimum the teacher needs to teach the first lesson called Why Do we Build Dams? This will teach about the need for water in many communities and the issues that many communities deal with flooding. For teaching more about how hydropower is clean energy, teachers should draw on the lesson called Clean Energy: Hydropower.

     

    Source: https://www.teachengineering.org/lessons/view/cub_dams_lesson01 


    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source A: Elwha Dam Removal Article

     

    This article is from an environmental perspective.

    Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/the-elwha-dams-are-gone-and-chinook-are-surging-back-but-why-are-so-few-reaching-the-upper-river/ 

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source B: The Lessons of the Wynoochee River Dam 

     

    While the idea of a dam on the Wynoochee River, at first, sounded like an excellent idea the long term effects were devastating to the salmon and the habitat that relied on the Wynoochee River.

    Students should understand that rivers serve a purpose and when man attempts to control the natural “flow” of the environment, the consequences can be severe to everything that depends on the river.

    Source: https://olywip.org/the-lessons-of-the-wynoochee-river-dam/ 


     

     

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source C: Visiting the Wynoochee Dam

     

    To tame the wild river called Wynoochee, the Wynoochee Dam was built in 1972. The unpredictable river that flooded the valley areas of Montesano and surrounding communities was finally controlled. The dam produces enough electricity to power a small town, but the goal of the dam was flood control and industrial water for nearby pulp mills. Now, the Wynoochee Dam has become a tourist attraction. Camping, hiking and fishing have become synonymous with visiting the dam, as well as scheduled dam tours.

    Students can further investigate the benefits to the communities that benefit from electricity and flood control vs. the impact of the dam on the natural setting of the river and valley of the Wynoochee.

    Source: http://www.graysharbortalk.com/2019/10/14/visiting-the-wynoochee-dam/#:~:text=Besides%20consistent%20water%2C%20the%20dam,usable%20for%20crops%20and%20communities.

     

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source D: Puyallup Tribe Court Battle Article

     

    This article speaks a lot about the perspective of the Tribe and biologists, it does have statements from the Electron Hydro company that states why they want to support their community with green energy. Students who are taking the stakeholder role of either the biologists or the Electron Dam will read this article and glean from it, information to support their socratic seminar.

    Source: https://www.king5.com/article/tech/science/environment/puyallup-tribe-court-battle-against-electron-hydro-over-river-dam-pollution/281-7dbb543a-8110-417e-b765-8d2617320b93 

     

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source E: How much money do dams make?

     

    This source explains the ins and outs of dams. How much they cost to build, maintain and run. They also go through how much money they gain while the water is being stored in reservoirs. Students will use this when researching a stakeholder like the city who wants to know how much money it will cost to buy electricity from a hydro dam and if it is sustainable to support the city population.

    Source: https://segmentnext.com/2015/03/16/cities-skylines-hydroelectric-power-plants-dams-guide/ 

     

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source F: History of the Elwha Dam

     

     

    This source is to support the Appendix assignment for the stakeholder roles of the city council and the tribe. Students will explore the history of the Elwha and how the river being dammed impacted the ecosystem and salmon populations.

    Source: https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/nKHpR0JHSNqNxI1HmCQ4 

     

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source G: Fisherman’s Perspective + Video on Fisherman’s Perspective

     

    This source talks about the fishermen on the Columbia River using weirs and how their life was catching fish before the dams were put in place. The video is from the same website but is a video on the same topic.

    Source:

    Article https://www.confluenceproject.org/library-post/columbia-river-fish-weirs-and-wheels-two-divergent-cultures/ 

    Video: https://www.confluenceproject.org/library-post/salmons-agreement-film/ 

     

    Supporting Question 3

    Featured Source H: Return of the River: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

     

    This resource talks about how the rivers returned after the dam was removed from the Elwha. There are four parts in the documentary and could be used or some parts chosen to understand different perspectives of how a river is impacted after a dam is removed.

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc5imz0a2qs 


     

     

     

    Appendix APreparation for Stakeholder Assignment

     

    ExceedingMeetingApproachingBeginning
    Everything in the meeting and…Every other stakeholder’s position is considered and rebuttals are written.All bullet points are completely answered with explanations.Some bullet points are completely answered with explanations.Few bullet points are completely answered with explanations.

    Stakeholder’s Name:

    Answer the following questions from the perspective of the stakeholder.  Pretend you are that person.

    ·       Who are you?

     

     

    ·       How are you connected to the problem?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ·       Your views on the problem (evidence from the reading – not your personal views!)  How do you feel about the dam removal? Are you for, against, neutral or other?

     

     

    How would you feel if you were in the same position as your character?

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ·     Create an outline of the main points or arguments your character provides to prepare for the presentation to the city council.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

    City Council Members:

    ExceedingMeetingApproachingBeginning
    Everything in the meeting and…Questions are created for each stakeholder to ask during the city council meeting.A summary of each section is complete and detailed.A summary of some sections are complete and detailed.A summary of a few sections are complete and detailed AND/OR the summary is weak.

    For each section in the “Historical Background on the Elwha River Dams” write a 3-sentence summary of what was in that section.

    ·       Introduction

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ·       A place to live

     

     

     

     

     

    ·       The Elwha River dam

     

     

     

    ·       Loss of the salmon and steelhead runs

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     ·       Dam safety

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

           The Tribes 1986 motion before FERC

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     ·       The relation of the dams to Olympic National Park

     

     

     

     

      The Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act

     

     

     

     

     

     

      Chronology: Elway River Dams

     

    Except where otherwise noted, this original work by NCESD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. All logos and trademarks are property of their respective owners. View license at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

    This resource may contain links to websites operated by third parties. These links are provided for your convenience only and do not constitute or imply any endorsement or monitoring.

                                                             

                                                                     

    [a]Please be sure to add a Footer to each page of your document that includes the licensing information.  I sent an email with the appropriate language for this on 5/27/2021