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Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region
Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration
Ni-les'tun Unit of Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
These are all of the Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project news updates posted in September, 2011.
Monday, 26
The Penultimate Blog Post
Since our last post Tidewater Contractors have settled most of the dust, but are still making a lot of noise. They have gotten the gravel road base spread and compacted, and begun laying down asphalt. The gravel covered the dusty road, but the graders and vibrating rollers have been rattling the Refuge office windows for several days. That is OK, though, because it is welcome progress. Road paving is ongoing, and is scheduled to continue all weekend. Meanwhile Pacific Power has taken down the utility wires and poles along North Bank Lane that have been replaced with underground lines, and the concrete subcontractor has poured the retaining walls for the pedestrian tunnel. Also, the old office driveway has been transformed into a narrower walking path that will eventually connect to the tunnel.

Tidewater is pushing hard to complete the roadwork before our dedication celebration on October 1. Preparations for our dedication ceremony are coming to a head, and we expect over 200 people to be here as our partners, friends, agency officials, and the public celebrate this important restoration. The ceremony will include an invocation and traditional youth dance performance in full regalia by the Coquille Indian Tribe to welcome the return of the tides to this traditional hunting and fishing ground. The public is invited to attend the event, which begins at 3:00pm. On site parking will not be available so please go to Bullard's Beach State Park then follow Bandon Marsh Event signs to the Beach Parking Lot located 1.3 miles from the park entrance. From the Beach Parking lot you can catch the free shuttle to the event at our North Bank Lane overlook parking lot.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 8:34 AM / Category: Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project
Monday, 12
Upper Fahys Creek Project Completed
By the end of last week the fish passage restoration project on private land along Fahys Creek west of the refuge was completed well ahead of the September 15 deadline for instream work. Aside from some revegetation of areas impacted by heavy equipment, we have only to wait for winter rains and high stream flows to see if the coho salmon will find this breeding habitat that has not been available to them for over 100 years. There is some debate among salmon biologists on the likelihood of wild coho recolonizing this watershed on their own in the next couple of years, and whether they will need a bit of help in the form of stocking fry in Fahys Lake. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has agreed to wait a few years to see what happens before intervening. Meanwhile, the coastal cutthroat trout already present will undoubtedly expand upstream and use the new spawning grounds. In any case, we are all excited to have the opportunity to compliment the marsh restoration of the tidal section of Fahys Creek, which will greatly benefit juvenile salmon, with the restoration of upper Fahys Creek salmon breeding and rearing habitat, leading to restored function of this entire coastal stream.?? Progress on North Bank Lane road improvements includes completion of buried utility conduits with pull strings in place, the last of the drainage culvert installations, milling of most of the old asphalt road surface, and spreading of much of the gravel road base in preparation for new pavement. The latest projection is that the road work will be completed around September 20. We are all looking forward to the final removal of all the heavy equipment, noise, dust, and traffic delays, and the return of natural processes dominating the refuge. ?
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 8:22 PM / Category: Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project
Monday, 5
Out of the Marsh and Up the Creek
This week the last of the heavy equipment left the marsh after Knife River completed the final grading and farm road obliteration near North Bank Lane. The final touch was a coating of hydroseed over the bare soil near the road. The week was characterized by higher and higher tides that extended the flooding further into the marsh. Some of the wildlife responses we have noticed include a flock of up to 100 western gulls hanging around the mouth of Fahys Creek taking advantage of the food bonanza of benthic invertebrates being exposed by the fast current during falling tides; mallards and green-winged teal foraging and loafing in the shallow waters of the marsh; great blue herons and great egrets patrolling the tidal channels; smelt cruising in east Fahys branch; and raptors hunting small mammals displaced by the inundation. We can no longer use pick-up trucks, or even ATVs to travel around the site, as we have for the last couple years, due to the wet soils, so fieldwork involves long walks through dense vegetation, and crossing channels too deep for chest waders on strategically placed logs.

Restoration activities have shifted off refuge upstream along Fahys Creek where we are removing two fish barriers to allow full access for salmon to the headwaters in Fahys Lake. Knife River, under close guidance from USFWS and ODFW staff, spent this week diverting the stream around an 8-foot waterfall that was created by an old mill, and removing two old culverts. This involves lining the diversion channel with rock, elevating part of the streambed to decrease the slope, and adding large wood and many tons of gravel to provide spawning habitat. This project is being led by USFWS Ecological Services branch, and is being done in cooperation with the private landowner.

Work on North Bank Lane is going very slowly, but concrete footings for the retaining walls around the new pedestrian underpass were poured this week, and more road grading has occurred. Refuge staff has begun sprucing up by removing invasive weeds, preparing to mount new interpretive signs, and cleaning the interpretive trail at the Ni-les'tun overlook area in anticipation of the October first dedication ceremony.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 7:59 PM / Category: Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project
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Site last updated March 8, 2011