Wednesday, Apr 17, 2013
On April 9, the State Land Board of Oregon presented Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and its partners at the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) with the state's wetland project of the year award.
A former tidal wetland, Colewort Creek had been diked and filled in the mid-20th century. After the park acquired the property in 2006, the park and CREST replaced a failing tidegate with a bridge that reconnected part of the site to tidal influence. The 2012 project further restored the 45 acre wetland complex by creating over 4,000 linear feet of new tidal channel, removing fill to return to marsh plain elevations, and planting over 17,000 culturally and ecologically important shrubs, trees, and forbs.
Monitoring has shown that this project is providing foraging and rearing habitat for federally threatened Chinook, coho, chum, steelhead, and coastal cutthroat trout. Genetic analysis conducted by NOAA indicates that the juveniles using Colewort Creek include both wild coastal Chinook and salmon born over a hundred miles away, in tributaries above and below Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River as well as the Willamette River. In addition to benefiting salmon, this project contributes to improved water quality, flood control, habitat diversity, and restoring the land to more closely resemble the natural scenery experienced by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805 and 1806. This project complements the recent Otter Point Restoration, a 33 acre tidal wetland located a half-mile upstream of Colewort Creek on the Lewis and Clark River.
State Treasurer Ted Wheeler commended the park on its community outreach, which involved recruiting Warrenton High School and Middle School students, the Northwest Youth Corps, and hundreds of hours of volunteers. “Visitors to the park will enjoy a more historically accurate landscape, and the park’s environmental education activities will be significantly enhanced” by the restoration, he said.
The award was presented by Governor John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler. Accepting on behalf of the park were Chris Clatterbuck, Chief of Resources, and Carla Cole, Natural Resource Program Manager.