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