Celebration to surround Elwha dam removal in Wash.

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PORT ANGELES (AP) -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will join Washington's governor and other dignitaries to mark the beginning of the end for the Elwha River dam.

The removal project is expected to last three years and eventually lead to restoration of the river and the return of salmon populations.

The Elwha River on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula once teemed with legendary salmon runs. That's before two towering concrete dams built nearly a century ago cut off fish access to upstream habitat, diminished their runs and altered the ecosystem.

The first concrete will be removed from the dam on Saturday. Witnesses are expected to include Gov. Chris Gregoire, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Congressman Norm Dicks, as well as tribal officials.