Neitzel Farm Off-Channel Wetland Restoration
Goals of the project are to:
- Restore by re-excavating 14+acre historic off-channel wetland habitat off mainstem Necanicum River that had been filled and converted to ag land. Such habitats are critical foraging and rearing areas for juvenile salmonids, particularly coho and cutthroat trout.
- Add large wood and native vegetation to wetland functionality, habitat health and diversity
- Using historical photographs, anecdotal evidence and local knowledge, project designers Doug Ray of Carex Consulting and Joseph Shehan from Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife re-excavated the historic channel through a retired lettuce field.
- Depths of excavation were targeted to allow groundwater flows underneath project site to re-water channel, while connection to mainstem Necanicum River was precisely engineered to allow in-flow during high water and out-flow during receding flows, as well as safe passage for juvenile fish.
- Hundreds of large wood pieces placed in the restored channel for habitat complexity, cover and scour flows
- Carefully developed native wetland and Sitka spruce swamp native plant revegetation program implemented over three years
- Groundwater flows began watering new channel immediately, and mainstem connection was made with main river channel at first high water event. Coho juveniles were observed in project reach almost immediately after.
- Nocturnal coho spotlight surveys have consistently shown very high juvenile usage
- Temperatures due to groundwater influence were consistently 4-5 degrees C cooler in summer and warmer in winter, ideal for juvenile salmonids
- Connection with mainstem Necanicum River has remained fully functional through several seasons through 100-year flood events and dry summer months, allaying any fears of juvenile fish stranding
- Native plant program has been hugely successful, and has thrived with the help of local TU chapter (Tualatin Valley) stewardship
- Project and its landowner, Mrs Ernestine Neitzel and family, have received accolades from science community, state agencies and US Congress
Alan Moore - Northwest Director of Habitat Programs
North Oregon Coast
Risks to Fishing