After years of planning, engineering, and grant-writing, Ducks Unlimited and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) have completed implementation of wetland restoration and enhancement projects on five state-wildlife areas: Fern Ridge, Irrigon, Klamath, Sauvie Island and Summer Lake.
Financial support for these projects includes funding from state game bird license sales and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). With investments exceeding $500,000, these projects impacted over 1,000 acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat and improved recreational opportunities for hunters and other visitors throughout the year. Here’s a summary of each project.
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area - Coyote Creek South
Coyote Creek South on the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area, near Eugene, Oregon, was acquired in 2014 by ODFW through the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program (WWMP) with funding from Bonneville Power Administration. With funding secured by DU from NAWCA, the project included restoring seasonal wetland functions on 26 acres of the 108-acre property. Seven water-control structures were replaced in pre-existing wetland basins to allow ODFW precise water and wetland management capabilities. The project will provide optimal ecological benefit for migratory birds, native plants and wildlife, including those listed as Oregon Conservation Strategy species. Construction was completed in October, just in time for waterfowl season. This area is open for hunting and public recreation.
Sauvie Island Wildlife Area – Eastside Delivery / McNary Pump Improvement Phase I
Phase I of the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area – Eastside Delivery / McNary Pump Improvement Project was completed in November. Work included a new pipeline from a pump on McNary Lake to existing water delivery channels in the wildlife area, creating a more dependable and efficient delivery of water to more than 1,400 acres of wetlands and working ag lands, which ultimately saves ODFW Wildlife Area managers time and pumping costs.
Benefits of the project include flooding habitat for early-season migratory birds and resident birds and other wetland-associated species. Improved water delivery also makes wetlands units available earlier in the season for improved waterfowl hunting opportunities. NAWCA and DU major donor contributions were the primary source of funding.
Irrigon Wildlife Area - Cottonwood and Kingery Ponds Wetland Restoration
Earthwork and installation of new management infrastructure was completed in November and benefits a 240-acre mosaic of wetlands, uplands and riparian habitats on properties adjacent to the Columbia River in northern Oregon.
Restoration in the Irrigon Wildlife Area and on an adjacent private property addressed water quality and quantity, invasive species, soil erosion and habitat degradation. Specifically, these activities will reduce flood threats to private property, allow the use of new structures to improve habitat management and assist with controlling invasive species, recharge groundwater aquifers and improve water quality by sequestering sediments. Partners include Morrow Soil & Water Conservation District, ODFW, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Duck Hunters Association, USFWS and the Kingery family.
Klamath Wildlife Area – Miller Island Unit, Water Diversion Structure Replacement and Fish Screen Relocation Project
DU secured funding from NAWCA and ODFW to replace a water diversion structure at one of ODFW’s legal points of diversion along the Klamath River and relocated three fish screens adjacent to the new structure. This project improves water delivery to enhance 60 acres of wetlands and 53 acres of wetland-associated uplands on Miller Island that provide important habitat for waterfowl and other waterbirds. Additionally, this work will eliminate the likelihood of entraining resident and anadromous fish from the Klamath River onto Miller Island during water diversions for habitat management purposes.
Construction of the new diversion structure and concrete base where the fish screens are placed has been completed. ODFW removed the fish screens and is refurbishing them for re-installation.
Summer Lake Wildlife Area – North River Ranch Unit Enhancement
In partnership with ODFW, Ducks Unlimited delivered its fourth wetland restoration project on Summer Lake Wildlife Area in 10 years. Historically, the North River Ranch Unit was limited in its habitat potential by a lack of water management capabilities. The project replaced nine water-control structures restoring the distribution of Ana River surface water across the historical floodplain. A new levee at the bottom of the unit provided new management capabilities enabling the manipulation of surface water elevations throughout the year.
The project enhanced more than 350 acres of seasonal and emergent wetland habitat and was part of a NAWCA grant awarded to Ducks Unlimited in 2017.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.