The North Coast Watershed Association, comprised of four local watershed councils (Ecola Creek, Nicolai-Wickiup, Skipanon and Youngs Bay) and the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) received nearly $300,000 in grant funds this summer for salmon and watershed restoration and monitoring projects.
"The success we've seen with our grant proposals are a direct result of the hard work and dedication of volunteers participating in watershed councils, discussing problems and offering solutions," said Todd Cullison, CREST's director of Watershed Programs.
The Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership approved $160,000 and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved $25,000 to restore a tidal wetland along the Lewis and Clark River. When completed, this project will restore 25 acres to tidal influence and provide habitat for juvenile salmon such as coho. A second U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant was awarded to implement an Aquatic Habitat Inventory in Big Creek. The survey will determine the amount of suitable habitat for salmon and steeelhead spawning and rearing in Big Creek. The Nicolai-Wickiup Watershed Council, landowner Hampton Affiliates and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife will use this information for management decisions and restoration prioritization in the watershed.
Additionally, three grants from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (0WEB) were awarded to the councils. One grant for $35,000 is for winter night snorkeling in streams to investigate the presence of coho salmon. Biologists snorkel side channels and pools counting juvenile coho at night, often times in undesirable conditions, to determine fish distribution and abundance in the Youngs Bay watershed.
When completed, the Youngs Bay council will have a better understanding of where to implement future restoration projects and focus their efforts. The Youngs Bay Watershed council will also be conducting intensive water quality monitoring and juvenile fish sampling in sloughs with recently replaced tidegates.
"We've replaced several tidegates over the past three years and now have enough money and study sites to intensively monitor the benefits of these projects to water quality and fish," said Cullison.
The Ecola Creek Council is working in the watershed surrounding Cannon Beach and Arch Cape. The council received a $10,000 Small OWEB Grant for large wood p lacement in Arch Cape Creek. The project will place trees donated from Longview Fibre in the stream to create additional fish habitat and control erosion.
The watershed councils are community-based organizations proactively working to improve watershed health, including clean water and salmon restoration.