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Viewing category: Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project
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August 21, 2011
A Marsh Reborn!
Early Monday morning a crowd assembled at the mouth of Redd Creek to witness the removal of the tidegate. The work by Knife River employees began during the morning low tide to keep turbidity from entering the river. Work progressed as the tide began to rise and at precisely 10:46 a.m. a small coffer dam was breached and tidal flow surged into the new mouth of Redd Creek and began flowing upstream into the marsh. This event marked a pivotal week in the restoration project and was witnessed by Knife River crews, Refuge staff and volunteers, staff with Ducks Unlimited and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, archaeologists with Byram Archaeological Consulting, Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Historic Preservation Office, and our visiting Chinese colleagues. The restoration of the Redd Creek portion of the project came off precisely as planned. On Tuesday morning crews reassembled at the mouth of Noname Creek for a repeat performance at this location as a low fog hung over the river and ground. The removal of the tidegate and final excavation of the new creek mouth at Noname Creek went off without a hitch. Later in the day Knife River Crews relocated to the north end of the west dike and began removing the dike down to the final grade. Removal of the north end of the west dike continued all day Wednesday. On Thursday morning Knife River crews began removing the temporary tidegate on Fahys Creek and excavated the new creek mouth down to an elevation of -1'. This work was again done around the low and incoming tide to push any turbidity created up into the new marsh. Big smiles were seen on everyone's faces as the tidal flow pushed through the creek mouth and began to flood into the new marsh. This marked the return of lower Fahys Creek to the historic location where it existed more than 100 years ago. Spoil from the dike removal and creek mouth excavation was used to fill the former artificial Fahys Creek channel. In a moving event at 3:25 p.m. as high tide approached, seven members of the Coquille Indian Tribe paddled through Fahys Creek and into the marsh in a large ceremonial canoe as other tribal members watched from shore. This marked the first time the tribe had paddled a canoe in the Ni-les'tun marsh in more than 140 years! Later as the canoe disappeared down river an osprey splashed down in the water in Fahys Creek submerging all but its wing tips. As it rose from the water with a fish in its talons everyone watching cheered and clapped.

On Friday and Saturday Knife River crews removed the remainder of the west dike, filled and capped the former artificial Fahys Creek channel, and began final removal of the outer levee in the SW corner of the project area.

During the week Tidewater Contractors was involved with a number of projects associated with the North Bank Lane improvement project. Installation of underground utility conduit and vaults continued and replacement of drainage culverts throughout the project area occurred. On Friday, the new entrance road to the Refuge office was roughed-in and the former entrance road was decommissioned. Spoil from the new entrance road cut was used to achieve finished elevation of a portion of the North Bank Lane grade raise at Fahys Creek.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 8:52 PM
August 13, 2011
Last Week Before the Tides Return!
In a dramatic moment on Monday, Knife River equipment operators unearthed and pulled out the Fahys Creek culvert and tidegate at low tide, and filled the remaining hole to finally end the flow of Fahys Creek through the old artificial creek mouth. The flow of Fahys Creek then shifted to the new temporary tidegate installed last week and out across the mudflats in the historic location where the creek met the Coquille River. Interestingly, hundreds of shorebirds lingered this week feeding on the mudflats below the temporary tidegate as though they were impatiently anticipating their move into the new habitat areas we are creating.

Work this week was focused on setting the stage for the removal of the outer dike system and return of the tides next week. Work included finishing the fortification of the east and west protection dikes; narrowing and lowering the dikes over the tidegates of Redd and Noname creeks; fine-tuning the drainage in the marsh interior; and filling in the newly abandoned lower Fahys Creek channel. The excitement about the imminent return of the tides next week is tempered by our anxiety of making sure everything that needs to be completed before the final breach is actually accomplished. In tribute to the outstanding team of professionals working on this huge project, the constant communication among USFWS staff, Ducks Unlimited engineer, Knife River foreman and operators, and our science team has kept the process adaptable to any unexpected problems, while staying ahead of schedule. As currently planned, full tidal flow should be restored to the Ni-les’tun Unit by the end of next week!

Progress continues on the North Bank Lane improvements as well, as Tidewater Contractors increased their work hours this week. Roadwork included installing more underground utility conduit and vaults, removing surcharge from the North Bank Lane grade raise at Redd Creek and placing the fill on the road west of Fahys Creek. Work on widening the roadbed in several areas also occurred.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 7:30 PM
August 5, 2011
First Stage of Outer Dike Removal Underway
Dike removal was the order of the week and is greatly changing the view of the landscape along the Coquille River. Contractor Knife River kept busy with two backhoes removing the outer dike and up to five 6-wheel dump trucks moving the spoils to fortify the east and west levees, which will protect our neighbors from tidal flooding. By the end of the week, only the southwest section of the outer dike remained to be lowered to the staging elevation. There is a much different feel to the area now with most of the dike removed. The high tide is only a couple feet away from spilling over top into the former pastures. On Friday, we took advantage of the low tide in late morning to install a temporary tidegate in the west dike. This allows us to shift the location of the Fahys Creek outlet, while Knife River begins to decommission and remove the old tidegate and back fill the existing lower artificial channel. Once the stream begins to flow through this new tidegate, it will mark the first time in over hundred years that Fahys Creek will return to the historical mouth location. Assuming we can continue at the current rate of progress, we anticipate the final tidegate and dike removal to occur ahead of schedule, during the week of August 15th. On August 3rd officials from NOAA-Fisheries toured the project site, followed the next day by the Natural Resource Trustees of the M/V New Carissa oil spill.

Tidewater Contractors spent the week burying more utility conduit and installing vaults along North Bank Lane. They are also making some progress on constructing the new Refuge office driveway.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 5:40 PM
August 1, 2011
The Outer Dike Begins to Come Down
For those of us familiar with the view over the Ni-les'tun Unit of Bandon Marsh NWR from the U.S. Highway 101 bridge, this week has brought welcome and dramatic changes. The removal of the overhead powerlines and poles that traversed the pastures and river, along with the clearing of trees and brush off the west dike near Fahys Creek, allows a sweeping panorama across the former pastures and up the river valley.

Restoration contractor Knife River spent the week placing more than 100 pieces of large woody debris in six reaches of tidal channel to create fish habitat. They also distributed almost as many sections of decaying logs that are intended to become nurse logs supporting seedling establishment for woody plants, which will extend the existing tidal spruce forest into the marsh. Some of these nurse logs were donated to the refuge by the Coquille Indian Tribe, and others were purchased at cost from Moore Mill Timber company in Bandon. At the same time, other Knife River equipment operators were stripping vegetation off the west dike and the outer dike in preparation for removal. By Friday, the first lowering of the outer dike along the river bank near No Name Creek began. With an eye on the predicted high tides over the next few weeks, the dikes will be narrowed and lowered in stages (lifts), with final lift and tidegate removal scheduled for the lowest high tides of the year during the third week of August. This staging is critical so we can remove the final lift and get all heavy machinery to high ground before the higher tides return. All dike excavation is being constantly monitored by archaeologists look for and protect any cultural resource artifacts/sites that may be uncovered.

Meanwhile Tidewater Contractors is moving forward on North Bank Lane road improvements. By the end of the week all the surcharge on the road grade raise in the Fahys Creek section had been removed and used to elevate the road to the west. Tidewater also began excavating the new driveway for the Refuge office, and buried more conduit for underground utility lines.

This week's activities were observed with great interest by two visiting scholars from China that are here to learn about how we do large-scale habitat restoration. Yingshou Xu and Yifei Jia are from the Beijing Forestry University where they study wetland ecology. In their first week here, they have been involved in doing bird and herptile surveys, invasive plant removal, archaeological research, and mudflat invertebrate sampling. They have been very impressed by the amount of money, equipment, and professional expertise we are bringing to bear on this project. We have been impressed by their enthusiasm, curiosity, broad interests, and stories about how things are done in China. They will be here all through August, and will clearly have many stories (and photos) to share with their Chinese colleagues when they return to China on September 3rd.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 3:34 PM
July 22, 2011
Final Stages of Restoration
The excitement is now building as Knife River has begun to mobilize earthmoving equipment this week to the restoration site in preparation for the start of construction on Monday. This week, Stan Van de Wetering, Siletz Tribe fish biologist and monitoring team member, staked out the locations for the placement of over 50 additional logs with root wads that will be installed in the new tidal channels to improve fish habitat. Placement of the logs will be the first component that Knife River will accomplish. These logs will add to the 100 large logs installed last year, and are a bonus as a result of the restoration project completion being postponed until this year.

Meanwhile, Tidewater Contractors have been working on the final phase of North Bank Lane road improvements. They buried conduit and vaults along portions of the road in preparation for the ultimate burial of power and telephone lines, which will reduce bird strike hazards and improve the aesthetics of the Refuge. They have also begun removing the surcharge added to the raised portions of the road last year to get down to the final road grade. The removed material is being used to fill places where the road will be widened.

Work began today on the final stage of the large powerline burial project that crosses the Coquille River through the project site. This weekend, Doyon and its subcontractors will finally remove the overhead lines that cross the former pastures and Coquille River, along with the poles that support them. The underground lines installed last year replaced the aerial lines' function since last October, though the decision was made to leave the poles up through the winter until the new conductors were well tested. Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, the owner of the transmission lines, is satisfied that the underground lines are fully functional, and gave final approval for the removal of the old lines earlier this week. We will all breathe a sigh of relief when this portion of the project is completed in the next few days.

An unseasonable substantial rainfall last weekend caused a welcome interruption in the watering of the plantings at our riparian restoration site. In order to help the trees and shrubs through their first dry season we installed a temporary irrigation system. A gas-powered pump takes water from Fahys Creek and sends it through 500 feet of hose to two portable sprinkler heads that we move around to cover the drier parts of the site. Some of our long-term volunteers have been helping keep the watering going. We have also had other volunteers help us pull scotch broom and other weeds that are appearing in the restoration site, which will be an ongoing process for the next couple years, at least, until the native plants get well established.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 5:13 PM

Chinese Biologists Assist Tidal Marsh Restoration Project
This weekend two Chinese biologists will join American colleagues for six weeks at Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Bandon, Oregon. The foreign visitors will assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with a 418-acre tidal marsh restoration project that provides important habitat for a variety of estuarine-dependent fish, birds, and other wildlife. The visiting scientists will live on-site at the refuge with others working on the project.

"We're very proud of our efforts involving many partners and want to share our experience with the Chinese visitors," said Roy W. Lowe, Project Leader at the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. China's coastal wetland habitat is diminishing, and that impacts bird species that breed in Alaska and migrate to China, so it is in our interest to encourage China to take positive steps for preserving coastal wetlands."

Lowe added, "Mr. Yingshou Xu and Mr. Yifei Jia are both trained professionals from the prestigious Beijing Forestry University, and the refuge will benefit by having their perspective on this project." A Chinese student who recently completed an MA in International Environmental Policy Studies in California, Ms. Miao Yu, will travel to Oregon to assist with language translation.

The visit is occurring under the auspices of the Nature Conservation Protocol, an agreement signed in 1986 between the U.S. Department of the Interior and China's State Forestry Administration. The Protocol, which marked its 25th anniversary this year, encourages information exchange and cooperation in wildlife conservation. Cooperation is based on reciprocity, and several U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service groups are hosted by Chinese counterparts annually.

The Service's Wildlife Without Borders China program coordinates activities and exchanges related to the Protocol, and is managed by the Arlington, Virginia based Division of International Conservation. Division Chief Herb Raffaele notes the importance of international cooperation for wildlife conservation. "If we do not take advantage of learning from one another, then each country will have to reinvent the wheel and learn from its own trials and errors," said Raffaele. "It can be costly, not only financially, but ecologically as well."

To learn more about the U.S.-China Nature Conservation Protocol and read the 2011-2013 work plan, visit the Wildlife Without Borders China program webpage,

Follow the Service's International Affairs program on Twitter @USFWSInternatl, and on Facebook, USFWSInternationalAffairs.

For additional information on the tidal marsh restoration project at Bandon Marsh go to
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 2:58 PM
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Site last updated March 8, 2011