The Pacific Marine & Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership (PMEP) is pleased to announce the following projects have been selected for funding through the National Fish Habitat Partnership. These projects represent important conservation priorities of PMEP. $192,817 has been awarded to the partnership through the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the following five projects:
Seestrom Tidelands Restoration Project
Funding provided: $49,500
Sponsor contact: Cyndi Park, Coquille Watershed Association, 541-260-1433 email@example.com
The Seestrom Tidelands Restoration project will restore floodplain habitat connectivity to 270 acres of a working ranch located within the Coquille Estuary. This project will enhance rearing habitats for juvenile Oregon Coast ESU coho and fish species. Restoration actions include replacing two failing tidegates, removing one tidegate, reconstructing 19,000 feet of sinuous tidal channels, planting a riparian buffer in a fenced livestock exclusion area along the tidal channels and implementing a Water Management Plan that allows for significant improvement in fish access to the site.
“Improving access to almost 300 acres of floodplain habitat is a critical action for salmonid recovery in the Coquille Basin,” said Cyndi Park, restoration program coordinator for the Coquille Watershed Association. “This project serves as an example of a win-win scenario for working lands and watershed enhancement that is made possible by a diverse array of stakeholders. Funding from PMEP will support planting 19,000 feet of tidal stream, which will improve water quality in the project area and increase habitat complexity on site.”
Columbia-Pacific Passage, Hungry Harbor Restoration
Funding provided: $50,000
Sponsor Contact: Jason Smith, Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce, 503-325-9435, firstname.lastname@example.org
The restoration project will improve fish passage and off-channel rearing habitat at Hungry Harbor, located near the mouth of the Columbia River Estuary in Pacific County, Washington.
The project removes a fish barrier and replaces it with a 100 percent passable stream simulation structure to restore fish passage and connectivity to 4.4 acres of tidal rearing habitat and 1.5 miles of spawning habitat. Other habitat enhancements include recovering historic channel location and gradient, adding instream wood structures to improve habitat quality and complexity for salmonids, and dense native plantings. This work will benefit Chinook, Coho, Chum, Steelhead, and Cutthroat trout.
Neskowin Fish Passage Improvement Project
Funding provided: $50,000
Sponsor contact: Garshaw Amidi-Abraham, Nestucca, Neskowin & Sand Lake Watersheds Council, 503-965-2200, email@example.com
The Neskowin Fish Passage Improvement Project will increase access to 250 acres of riverine estuary, tidal scrub/shrub and tidal forest wetland rearing habitat and 5 miles of spawning habitat for coho salmon, Chinook salmon, chum salmon, steelhead trout, Pacific Lamprey and cutthroat trout. This project includes the replacement of three undersized culverts and two tidegates with two 32’ bridges sized to meet federal and state fish passage requirements. The crossing structures are associated with the construction of an emergency egress road, which will improve hydraulic and ecosystem function. In its current state, the road blocks hydraulic exchange and fish passage.
“The Neskowin fish passage and trail project has been in the works for over seven years,” said Guy Sievert, board president of the Nestucca, Neskowin & Sand Lake Watersheds Council. “It took many partners at all levels to finally bring it to completion and the PMEP grant helped us cross the finish line. We are so grateful to Tillamook County for taking the lead on this. The project will produce many benefits; for fish and wildlife, for the safety of the residence of Neskowin and for the enjoyment of all who live and visit here.”
Enhancement of Olympia oysters to provide heterogeneous habitat for fish and invertebrates
Funding provided: $15,000
Sponsor contact: Steven Rumrill, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 541-867-0300, firstname.lastname@example.org
This project will increase the ecosystem benefits provided by native Olympia oysters at Coquille Point (Yaquina Bay, Oregon). Specific objectives are to: (1) enhance the existing population of oysters; (2) provide protection against predation by non-native European green crab; and (3) provide complex habitat for diverse communities of estuarine fishes. Project sponsors will design and fabricate innovative “Olympia oyster havens” constructed from cement and oyster shell, populate them with oyster spat, and evaluate their effectiveness as refuges from predatory crab.
Use of the modular substrata as habitat for estuarine fishes in the intertidal and subtidal zones will be documented.
A regional scale assessment of fish habitat along the nearshore of greater Puget Sound
Funding provided: $28,317
Sponsor contact: Bart Christiaen, Washington Department of Natural Resources, 360-902-1258, email@example.com
This project is a regional scale assessment of fish habitat along the nearshore of greater Puget Sound. Project sponsors will analyze previously collected towed underwater imagery from Washington Department of Natural Resources’ eelgrass monitoring program to investigate regional patterns in abundance and depth distribution of marine vegetation types that are recognized indicators of habitat condition. Vegetation types include understory kelp, the introduced alga Sargassum muticum, other brown/red algae, green algae, and seagrass species. Patterns will be related to gradients in environmental drivers to identify areas that are potentially susceptible to anthropogenic stressors such as water quality degradation, shoreline modification, and climate change.
“'Understanding the distribution of eelgrass, kelp, and other marine vegetation is essential for protecting critical fish habitat,” said Bart Christiaen, natural resource scientist with Washington Department of Natural Resources. “This funding will boost our efforts to develop and expand DNR’s monitoring program from seagrass to a more comprehensive survey of marine vegetation in greater Puget Sound.”
These projects represent a portion of the on-the-ground conservation work implemented in 2020 under the National Fish Habitat Partnership. Through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation program, over $4.3 Million was contributed to 95 projects in 31 states. Overall, these Federal funds were matched more than 8-to-1 with nearly $31.3 Million in match funding contributed from tribes, state agencies, local municipalities, non-governmental organizations, and other partners.