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Salmon River Estuary Project Receives National Award

Effort to restore 1300 acres recognized for collaboration, aquatic stewardship

The Department of State Lands was among 13 federal, state, local and private organizations that were recently recognized by the U.S. Forest Service for restoring the Salmon River Estuary near Lincoln City. 

The restoration partnership included the Salmon-Drift Creek Watershed Council; Siuslaw National Forest; Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board; Oregon Department of Transportation; Oregon Department of State Lands; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Greenpoint Consulting; “Hire the Fish Crew” Program; Sitka Center for Art and Ecology; Westwind Stewardship Group; and the OSU Institute for Natural Resources. 

The Collaborative/Integrated Aquatic Stewardship Award honored the partner agencies for restoring tidal influence to 130 acres, and restoring more than 2.5 miles of stream channel and floodplain since 2006. Over 40 years, the project decommissioned and removed an aging theme park and a trailer park; and removed over two miles of dikes and ten tide gates, ditches and invasive species. The work will benefit endangered coho salmon, as well as Chinook salmon, steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, waterfowl and elk habitat. 

DSL’s involvement in the project primarily involved funding for two tidal reconnection projects. The first, Tamara Quays, involved restoration of a 40-acre site, developed originally in the 1970s as a mobile home park. The second restored a 50-acre site that was developed as the Pixieland amusement park in 1969. 

Both projects were partially funded from the state’s In-Lieu Fee Program for wetland mitigation. When a development project impacts wetlands, developers may purchase wetland “credits” from DSL to satisfy their mitigation requirements. Revenue from selling credits is deposited into a fund earmarked for future wetland restoration. Both sites are being monitored over a ten-year period and include funding for maintenance of the restored wetlands. 

​​“Tidal habitats are some of our most productive and disproportionately lost wetland types,” said Mary Abrams, DSL director. “Our agency, and the many others who’ve worked within the Salmon River Estuary for decades, are returning the area to a place where natural species and systems can again flourish. We thank the U.S. Forest Service for recognizing this important project.”​

Salmon River Estuary slide show​