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 in Category: Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project