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Fish Passage Highlights 2016

Combining flood mitigation with habitat restoration

 

Nearly 20 years in the making, the Southern Flow Corridor has been completed in Tillamook County, Oregon.

Tillamook County is no stranger to flooding; it is part of their history. Dating back to the 1930s, the area has experienced native vegetation loss due to fires occurring in the North Oregon Coast Range. The vegetation loss, alongside years of diking, ditching, and draining and filling of estuarine and riverine habitats, is the primary causes of the flooding issue. An issue that has caused repeated hardship for local residents, businesses, and agriculture. Flooding in Tillamook
Flooding in Tillamook County. Credit NOAA.

In addition to these detrimental impacts on the Tillamook community, the history of development has effected close to 90 percent of the estuary's tidal wetlands, devastating the historical salmon numbers. The Southern Flow Corridor project was therefore proposed to address both of these issues by achieving flood mitigation as well as habitat restoration.

Finally, after almost 20 years in the making, the project has been completed! The Southern Flow Corridor has successfully restored more than 500-acres of tidal wetland and reopened nearly 14 miles of historical tributaries that will serve as important wintering habit for juvenile salmon. The project has resulted in significant flood reduction benefits over a 3,000-acre area, giving the Tillamook community a projected $9.2 million in avoided flood damages over 50 years.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) estimates that the restored wetland will annually produce 6,000-9,000 adult Coho salmon (average) and 9,000-14,000 with good ocean conditions. In addition to these exciting benefits it should also be noted that during the lifetime of the project it provided an estimated 50 jobs to the area.

Coho Salmon
Coho salmon. Credit Freshwaters Illustrated.

The success of the Southern Flow Corridor cannot be attributed to any one agency; it was a collaborative effort in the truest sense. The major contributors were: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, State Lottery Funds, Oregon Business Development Department and the Loren Parks Foundation.

Milestone projects such as this serve as a testament to the value of collaboration in restoration. When a diversity of voices are brought to bear on an issue the resulting solution will always reflect a wider interest. Tillamook County and the natural resources there in, now start their restorative journey as the fisheries move toward historical numbers and the community embraces a more stable environment.

-- Benjamin McLean, Pacific Region Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program

Project At a Glance

Benefits
  • 500-acres of tidal wetland restored
  • 14 miles of historical tributaries reopened
  • Flood reduction over a 3,000-acre area
  • Annual Coho salmon production increased to 6,000-14,000
Major Contributors
  • FEMA – $3,225,000
  • NOAA – $2,700,000
  • Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board – $1,522,144
  • Oregon State Lottery Bonds – $1,075,000
  • Oregon Business Development Department – $1,050,974
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – $822,618
  • Loren Parks Foundation – $250,000
 
Last Updated: June 29, 2017
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