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Tillamook Bay Watershed Council and ODF begin work on Wilson River restoration project
The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council in partnership with the Oregon Department of Forestry will begin restoration work this spring on 16 heavily degraded areas along the Wilson River.
 
The project’s sites are between Highway 6 and the Wilson River and begin at milepost 14.4 and range as far east as milepost 27 in the Tillamook State Forest, which is managed by ODF. Work is scheduled to begin April 20 and conclude June 30.
 
The work involves scarification – loosening compacted soil – on 2.5 miles (4.5 acres) of severely rutted, muddy roads and undesignated dispersed campsites adjacent to the Wilson River.
 
The $78,000 project is funded by a $33,000 Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) grant through the watershed council and by in-kind contributions from ODF, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), South Fork Inmate Camp and the Tillamook Forest Center.
 
Vehicle access is being restricted at these sites along 13 miles of the river; however, many existing BPA roads will remain open to public access.
 
Visitors will find vehicle access limited but will find parking available along Highway 6. All sites will be open for walk-in access and available for fishing and swimming.
 
There will be no designated campsites along this stretch of the river – at least not right away. Walk-in camping 25 feet away from the stream is allowed, but there can be no campfires during fire season in non-designated campsites (no fire grates). ODF officials will evaluate the area to determine the most appropriate sites for camping in the future.
 
To help meet the need for Wilson River corridor camping, ODF is redeveloping Keenig Creek, a nearby campground (mile post 18) decommissioned in the 1990s. Keenig Creek will offer 12 walk-in sites, two day-use picnic areas and swimming access to the Wilson River.
 
Other project work includes improving roads and installing a gate on ODFW land at milepost 23.5. In addition, an interpretive trail will be constructed just west of the Tillamook Forest Center and will include signs to explain the importance of watershed restoration.
 
The Tillamook Forest Center will use the new trail to conduct service-learning projects for K-12 students. The projects will focus on watershed restoration and the need for people to maintain healthy watersheds.
 
A contract for the excavation work was awarded Feb. 24. The scarification will prepare the ground for planting this fall with native conifers and shrubs. The goals of the project are to reduce human impacts, reduce sedimentation to the watershed and improve the health of the streamside zone.
 
The project roads and campsites are on land owned by ODF and the ODFW. In 2005, ODF acquired ownership of a lengthy strip of land between the Highway 6 right-of-way and the Wilson River from Oregon Parks and Recreation Department in a land trade.
 
This streamside land has suffered from neglect and impacts from 4-wheel-drive vehicle abuse, dispersed camping, human waste, litter and long-term campers, according to ODF officials. The restoration work is the first phase in the development of an overall management plan for the Wilson River corridor that addresses impacts to the watershed and provides for appropriate low-impact public access to the river.
 
For more information, contact Nathan Seable, (503) 815-7044, or Clyde Zeller, (503) 815-7065, at the ODF Tillamook District Office.