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Roy W. Lowe, Oregon Coast NWR Complex, (541) 867-4550

Tidal Marsh Restoration Project Begins at Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the start of restoration activities to restore and enhance 100 acres of diked lands within the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Lincoln County, Oregon.  The project will fully restore estuarine tidal functions to historic former tidal marsh along the south side of Millport Slough at the south end of Siletz Bay, east of Highway 101. On-site work will begin during the week of September 8 and is expected to continue throughout the month of September.

The tidal marsh at the restoration site was diked, drained and converted to pasture in the early 20th century. The properties remained in private ownership and were grazed for more than 90 years. However, a series of dike failures over the past 20 years resulted in frequent tidal inundation of the pasturelands. Faced with expensive dike repairs, the owners eventually allowed the properties to begin reverting back to tidal marsh habitat. Upon establishment of the Refuge the landowners donated or sold the land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for inclusion in the Refuge. One of the primary goals of the Refuge is to restore tidal marsh habitat for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources.

"The habitat restoration project will increase the overall health of the estuary and provide direct benefits to migratory birds such as waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds and a variety of estuarine-dependent fish populations," said Roy W. Lowe, Project Leader for the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The restoration project involves breaching 220 feet of dike at four locations, removing two dikes totaling 9,300 feet, and filling 1,200 feet of artificial drainage ditches. The majority of the soil from the breaches and dike removal will be placed in the original borrow ditch used to construct the dikes. In addition to restoring the marsh, large woody debris will be placed by helicopter at specific locations with the restoration area and in an

adjacent natural tidal marsh within the Refuge. The large woody debris placement is designed to improve habitat for anadromous fish including coho and chinook salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. Large woody debris is an essential component of healthy estuaries, providing habitat and areas of refuge for juvenile salmonids.

The restoration project is a partnership including the Service, Ducks Unlimited, and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. Ducks Unlimited is providing design, engineering and contracting services, while the Siletz Tribe assisted with project design and planning and is providing pre- and post- restoration environmental monitoring. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife also provided invaluable assistance in planning the project.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.




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