BANDON, -The Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex is taking on its largest restoration project in the state, near Bandon. Currently restoring over 400 acres of pasture land along the Coquille River back into tidal marsh land.
Work began on the $9.5 million project earlier this summer at the Niles'tun Bandon Marsh. According to project leader Roy Lowe, they're going to remove the century-old dikes and construct over five miles of tidal channels.
He says that the Coquille River has the highest percentage loss of tidal marsh land than any estuary in Oregon. And that its restoration would be beneficial for fish and wildlife population, especially salmon.
"They use these channels and fresh water sloughs that run into marshes," said Lowe. "We know now that that's a very important habitat, so we expect to see a potentially increased runs of, for instance, Chinook Salmon, just because of this project."
But before they can remove the dikes, Lowe says they're orchestrating several other projects, including moving the nearby power lines below ground and raising the neighboring roadways. Although the poor weather this summer has put a damper on their overall time line.
"We're choreographing three major construction projects to do this appropriately," said Lowe. "We've had delays there and so we had to make the call earlier this week that we could not open the dikes this year safely to be assure that we were done with the construction that needed to be done on the inside."
Lowe says construction will continue through September and they should be ready to remove the dykes next summer.
To learn more about the restoration project, you can click on the following link: http://www.fws.gov/oregoncoast