“Restoring natural estuary functions and processes to this treasured landscape is a unique opportunity and I am so pleased for our many hardworking partners, and scientists in the Forest Service that have come together over the years to restore nearly the entire 1,000 acre estuary,” said George Buckingham, interim Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor. “This team is very deserving of the national aquatics Rise to the Future award and we are thrilled with the recognition,” added Buckingham.
Through partnerships with state and federal agencies and local community members, this collaborative effort capped four decades of restoration work. The Cascade Head Scenic Research Area, located north of Lincoln City and designated by Congress in 1974, spawned the restoration. Slowly and methodically nearly all of the highly altered tidal marsh land in the Salmon River estuary was given back to the tides.
The most recent restoration efforts included removal of the last remnants of the Tamara Quays trailer park and the former Pixieland amusement park, as well as reshaping the land and drainage patterns to restore natural tidal wetland processes.
“It’s not often that you are presented with the opportunity to completely transform a landscape to a functioning condition,” said Kami Ellingson, Aquatics Program Manager for the Siuslaw National Forest. “I can’t say enough about the enthusiasm and energy of all our partners in collectively achieving this vision, “she added.
A strong student and community involvement effort in the summer of 2006 gave renewed energy and engendered financial support to ensure the completion of the last and most complex pieces of the restoration effort.
With identified goals and community support, Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council members, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of State Lands, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Department of Transportation, Sitka Center for the Art and Ecology, numerous researchers and local community contractors aided the Siuslaw National Forest in restoration of one of the few national forest-managed estuaries in the country.
Each year, the US Forest Service gives the Rise to the Future award in thirteen different categories to groups and individuals who have made a significant impact on watershed health across the United States. The Siuslaw National Forest and the many critical partners of the Salmon River estuary restoration project will receive the Collaborative/Integrated Aquatic Stewardship category.
Recipients of these awards will be recognized in Washington DC on May 14. Two of the team members will travel from there to Germany where they’ve been invited to share the results of the restoration project at the 2013 Biohydrology Conference in Germany.
“Quite simply, the vision of estuary restoration is to see fish swimming, birds flying and tides ebbing and flowing in the reestablished healthy, productive tidal marsh,” said Buckingham. “Our goal is to see that occur for decades to come in the Lower Salmon River Estuary.”
Currently, the Hebo Ranger District is locating a site for a small, interpretive site within the Scenic Research Area to help tell the restoration story.
For more specifics about the Salmon River estuary, visit the Siuslaw National Forest web site at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/siuslaw/restoration.
The 630,000 acre Siuslaw National Forest is known regionally, nationally and internationally for their recreation, restoration and partnership programs.