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Viewing category: Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project
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June 14, 2011
Beaver Week
It is still more than a month before Knife River will be onsite to begin the final construction of the restoration, but preparatory work and monitoring activities are keeping our staff busy. Tidewater Construction surveyors have been working along North Bank Lane to stake out areas where the road will be widened, and determine how much, if any, settling has occurred along the sections of road that were raised last year. The amount of settling will dictate how much of the road surcharge (added to test the support of the road base on wetland soils) will be removed this year to bring the road surface to final grade. The surveying will also help in the design of the relocation of the driveway to the Refuge office. Also part of the road project, last week a crew from the Coquille Watershed Association cut down extensive stands of scotch broom (an exotic invasive shrub) along North Bank Lane as the first step in controlling weed establishment in soils disturbed by road widening. Cutting the scotch broom will not kill the plants, but will make them more vulnerable to herbicide treatment by Coos County later this summer.

The former pastures have dried out considerably as the winter rains tapered off and plant respiration reaches its peak. It is important that the ground dries enough to support the heavy equipment that will be working out there this summer. However, over the winter beavers have built a beautiful dam on one of the tributaries of Redd Creek that resulted in standing water around two of the abandoned powerline poles that have yet to be removed. While the activity beavers has provided great habitat, we needed to lower the water, so we installed a "beaver baffle" in the dam has lower the water in a way that the beavers cannot prevent. The baffle consists of a pipe that is placed in the dam at the level we want the water to be, with the upstream portion perforated and screened to allow water flow that cannot be easily plugged by the beavers. The baffle was installed several weeks ago, and the beavers have since repaired the dam, but have not been able to raise the water level more than a few inches above the pipe. This has drained much of the water away from the powerline poles, and we hope that reduced input into the drainage as the season progresses will lower the water enough to allow easy removal of the poles. If it doesn't, we will modify the baffle to allow more flow-through. Beavers have also built some small dams in a branch of Fahys Creek on the north side of North Bank Lane, and we are hopeful that they will continue their activities in that stream.

Collection of baseline ecological data continued this week, including samples for measurement of water quality, fish seining in the Coquille mainstem by ODFW, plant inventory work by our volunteer botanists Dave and Diane Bilderback, amphibian surveys, and our regular bird surveys (now conducted weekly).

With the volunteer help of eight members of the local "Hot Sticks" fishing club, over 350 more trees and shrubs planted at the Smith Tract restoration site one Saturday morning in May. This week we began a mortality survey of those plus the more than 12,000 planted in March to assess survival. It looks like we are going to need to irrigate some sections of the site where the soils are especially well-drained to help the plants get through the dry season.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 3:19 PM
May 26, 2011
The Final Phase of Restoration Begins!
The third and final year of construction for the Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project has begun. On May 10th, Refuge staff, engineers with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Coos County Road Department met on site with Pacific Power and Frontier Communications to discuss the undergrounding of the North Bank Lane power lines and phone/cable along the Fahys Creek and Redd Creek grade raise areas. This is a new project component that is being implemented along bird flight corridors to prevent injury and mortality due to wire strikes. During the meeting partners reviewed the 2011 construction activities and schedule for completing the small culvert upgrades, and repaving of North Bank Lane. Engineers with FHWA and their contractor BANC3 reviewed a new entrance road design for the refuge office since the existing entrance will be impacted by road widening of North Bank Lane. Surveyors for Tidewater Contractors arrived on May 4th; their construction crews are scheduled to arrive after the survey is completed. Roadwork will continue throughout the spring and summer.

Ducks Unlimited and their contractor Knife River Corporation will return to the refuge in July for the final phase of construction associated with the marsh restoration. This final phase will include the placement of the large woody debris in tidal channels and creeks, relocating the mouth of Fahys Creek back to its historic location, erection of small dikes on the east and west end of the project site to protect private lands, and removal of the artificial perimeter dike and tidegates. By late-August the tidal function of the marsh will be restored!
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 10:13 AM
May 25, 2011
Restoration of Fahys Creek to be Expanded
Delay in completing the undergrounding of the transmission lines under the Coquille River and floodplain last summer forced us move the completion of the tidal marsh restoration project to this summer. Initially a disappointment, the delay has allowed us to expand the restoration work for coho salmon and sea-run coastal cutthroat trout. Working with the USFWS's Coastal Program, ODFW, and Ducks Unlimited, the restoration of Fahys Creek is being extended onto private lands west of Highway 101. A step-pool structure will be built at the culvert outlet on the east side of the highway to allow salmonid passage under the highway and up Fahys Creek. The current 36" fall and plunge pool is a barrier to fish passage and blocks movement upstream. West of the highway the stream channel will be redirected back to the natural historic channel and away from an artificially constructed portion of the creek. This will allow fish passage from the Coquille River, all the way up to and past Fahys Lake.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 10:58 AM

Restoration at the Former Cranberry Bogs
Earlier this spring, the 10-acre former cranberry bogs on the Anaflor Smith tract of the refuge was replanted with native vegetation to begin restoring the area to forested wetland and riparian habitat. A contract crew working for Ducks Unlimited planted 1,227 trees and 10,130 shrubs in this area. A beaver exclusion fence was erected by refuge staff adjacent to the newly constructed stream channel through the former bogs to prevent beaver from feeding on and destroying newly planted streamside vegetation. Beaver have already begun impounding the stream channel at the south end of the former bogs creating good pool habitat for wood ducks, shorebirds, fish and amphibians. Fisheries biologists with the USFWS Columbia River Fisheries Program Office have been conducting pre-restoration monitoring and have found juvenile coho salmon present throughout the stream channels and sloughs constructed last year even though the outer dike and water control structures are still in place.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 10:57 AM
October 30, 2010
Last Blog Post for 2010
Last week the USFWS spread seed on the disturbed areas associated with agricultural ditch filling and in areas where watershed divides are being established. The seed will germinate this year and provide ground cover and root mass prior to next years tidal flooding. In addition to the seeding, natural sprouting has occurred over much of the disturbed areas attracting hundreds of western Canada geese to the restoration area to feed on the newly sprouting grasses. The effort to reconstruct and raise North Bank Lane, under the direction of the Federal Highways Administration, continued this week with the placement of a temporary layer of asphalt over the fill areas at Fahys and Redd creeks. The blacktop was installed to enhance road safety for motorists this winter/spring, reduce sediment runoff, and to reduce maintenance related to leaving the road graveled. Doyon Project Services continued work this week on the south vault location to remediate the area of the bores and where the Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative powerline was connected from overhead to underground. The boreholes were filled with grout to reduce water transport along the bores.

Only minor work remains to be done this fall associated with the restoration, powerline undergrounding, and North Bank Lane road improvements. Work will be suspended for the winter and early spring before resuming again next year. This update constitutes the final blog post this year. Please check back next year, as the blog will begin again when construction resumes on the project.
Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 3:44 PM
October 13, 2010
Winding Down
As winter approaches all aspects of the restoration project are rapidly winding down and will soon be concluded for 2010. The following is a summary of the work completed over the past 10 days.

Doyon Project Services and sub-contractor Michels Power continued site cleanup on the underground transmission line on the south side of the Coquille River . The H-poles near the south vault were removed as well as the overhead transmission lines from this location down to the south bank of the Coquille River. The remaining poles and overhead transmission lines will be removed next summer during the final phase of the project. Cleanup at the north vault was completed and erosion control mulch and seeding has been placed on disturbed areas.

The Federal Highways Administration and Tidewater Contractors completed the grade raises of North Bank Lane near Fahys Creek and Redd Creek. The side slopes of the grade raises have been cleaned and smoothed and additional erosion control wattles placed at the base of the fills. Erosion control mulch and seeding is currently being placed on side slopes and disturbed areas. The old Redd Creek culvert under North Bank Lane was removed and backfilled and an old cattle underpass near at Riverview Kennel entrance was also removed and backfilled. Tidewater Contractors is currently working to install the final gravel lift on the grade raise portions of North Bank Lane that will serve as the temporary road surface until the road is paved next summer.

The USFWS acquired 500 lbs of annual rye grass seed to place on unvegetated disturbed areas within the marsh restoration project site for erosion control. Many of the disturbed areas have already begun to naturally revegetate in response to fall rains. . Teresa Molino, a PhD candidate, has begun her research on archeological aspects of past Coquille Indian use of the restoration area. The USFWS and Ducks Unlimited are currently developing plans to extend the restoration project up Fahys Creek west of U.S. Highway 101 in cooperation with Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. If this portion of the project is done it will provide anadromous fish passage at two location where it is currently blocked including the culvert under Highway 101 and a small dame feature further upstream.

The USFWS conducted an aerial photoreconnaissance of the project site on October 12, 2010. Some of the photos from that flight are included here.

Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 10:36 AM
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