Estuary Restoration

Historic stream channel is re-connected as part of the Bear River Estuary Restoration Project/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

More Productive Than Midwestern Farmland 

Salt marshes are some of the most productive habitats on earth. The mix of fresh and salt water, along with the daily influence of tides and rapid growth of salt-tolerant plants, algae and phytoplankton, creates cycles of rich nutrients that provide essential food, refuge and nursery habitat for fisheries species in Willapa Bay, including salmon, oysters and clams. Hundreds of other species benefit, too, such as invertebrates, migratory and resident birds, and mammals.

Life Force of the Estuary -  Lost and Found 

Much of the rich salt marsh habitat has been diked over the last century to create roads, farmlands, and other developments. Diking cuts off the transfer of nutrients in the estuary, and creates a barrier to anadromous fish movements between freshwater streams and the open bay.

To restore the natural cycles and increase habitat for these salt marsh dependent species, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is restoring diked salt marshes to historic conditions. Nature is resilient. As seen at Willapa NWR, and at other tidal restoration sites in the region, wildlife will colonize restored areas within a short timespan (1-5 years) creating a dynamic and thriving wildlife hotspot.

See the Success 

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge has restored hundreds of acres of estuary in south Willapa Bay. Learn more about these efforts: