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These are all of the news releases 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
Wednesday, 21
Dedication Ceremony for Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Ducks Unlimited (DU) will host a dedication ceremony on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge to celebrate the restoration of the Ni-les’tun Tidal Marsh. This free event is open to the public and will occur rain or shine. The one-hour ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m. and will include an invocation and ceremonial dance by members of the Coquille Indian Tribe; presentations by Congressman Peter DeFazio, the U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District; Rowan Gould, Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others.

Due to the large number of expected visitors, parking will not be available at the refuge. A shuttle will transport visitors from Bullards Beach State Park to the refuge. Bullards Beach State Park is located approximately three miles north of the city of Bandon on the west side of Highway 101. From Highway 101, turn west into Bullards Beach State Park, then follow Bandon Marsh Event signs to the Beach Parking Lot located 1.3 miles from the park entrance. Visitors should arrive at the parking lot no later than 2:30 p.m. to catch the shuttle and be on time for the dedication ceremony.

Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1983 to protect the largest remaining tidal salt marsh within the Coquille River estuary. The Ni-les’tun Unit of the marsh was established in 2000 to acquire, protect, and restore intertidal marsh, freshwater marsh and riparian areas that are habitat for migratory birds and anadromous fish including salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. This land was once a thriving tidal wetland, but as has occurred at most estuaries around the country, early settlers looked upon this habitat as fertile farmland if diked and drained, suitable for grazing livestock. Restoration of the tidal marsh allows the unimpeded return of daily tides to the lands for the first time in nearly a century.

“This is the most important restoration project in Oregon that Ducks Unlimited has been a partner to and we are already thrilled with the results,� said Tom Dwyer, DU’s Conservation Director, Pacific Northwest Office. “Flocks of dabbling ducks, Canada geese and shorebirds began foraging and roosting almost as soon as we let the seawater in, and knowing trout and salmon are returning to what was once an incredibly fertile fishing ground is even more reason to celebrate.�

“After more than 10 years of land acquisition, planning, design and construction by a host of partners, the largest restoration of a tidal marsh, 418 acres, in Oregon is now complete,� said Roy W. Lowe, Project Leader, of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “Time and the tides will slowly and surely change the land form and vegetation to a fully functioning tidal estuary.�

As part of the celebration of National Wildlife Refuge Week, Lowe added, “the USFWS and DU invite you to join us by going outside to enjoy the day at Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.�

Posted by the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex Staff at 2:43 PM / Category: Bandon Marsh NWR
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