Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award

        Russell Busch

CELP selected Russell Busch for this honor recognizing Russ, on behalf of the Lower Elwha Tribe and the people of Washington State, as a major force behind removal of the Elwha River dams.

As Russ wrote eloquently in his opening paragraph of “Justice Delayed:  A Tribal Attorney’s Perspective on Elwha River Dam Removal and Ecosystem Restoration”,

The Lower Elwha Indian Reservation sits astride the mouth of the Elwha River. If you were attending the blessing of a cedar canoe log or a first salmon ceremony on a pleasant spring evening there you’d hear the pounding surf and see the distant hills of Vancouver Island to the north. Looking up-valley to big snow peaks at the heart of the National Park.

If you were there 100 years ago you would have seen the river’s mouth sprawled out in a big, messy and incredibly rich estuary, outside what is now the National Park but still an essential component of the Park ecosystem. If you are fortunate enough to be there 10 or 20 years from now, you might watch the rebirth of that ecosystem. And you might wonder what they were thinking when they dammed the Elwha River.

Russell Busch’s public-interest work also lives on in the preservation of the historic Tse-Whit-Sen village on the Port Angeles waterfront. The settlement involving the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, State of Washington, City of Port Angeles and Port of Port Angeles ended conflicts over the historic Tse-whit-zen Village and ancestral burial ground and provides for restoration and long-term protection of the village.  The larger significance of Russ’ work is described in the Indian Law Advisor,

[this settlement,] perhaps the first in the country of such breadth and magnitude, established protocols to ensure clear communication among the parties when archaeological resources are discovered during future shoreline construction projects, and provides guidance for resolving land-use conflicts so that cultural resources can be protected and construction projects can go forward.

For this, CELP’s board is honored to present you with the Ralph W. Johnson Water Hero Award.

CELP Board of Directors:

Anne Johnson

Bartlett Naylor

John Osborn, MD

Kathy George

Lauren Goldberg

And the CELP Honorary Board:

Estella Leopold

Charles Wilkinson

Billy Frank

Fran Wood

Mike Lowry

  Center for

  Environmental Law & Policy

Matt Runkel photo

Russell Busch & the Elwha River


•Film:  Never Give Up:  Harriet Bullitt and Russ Busch

Governor’s Proclamation

•Joel Connelly:  Un-Damming rivers:  Two who fought for salmon

Honoring Event Slide Show