Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded a $75,000 technical assistance grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) for conceptual design work on the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge - Bay Unit.
“This project is a unique opportunity for improving biodiversity while managing for habitats critical to migratory geese and anadromous fish species,” said Kelly Warren, regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited.
Established in 1991, the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge is the largest federal refuge on the Oregon Coast with management priorities to provide wintering habitats for six subspecies of Canada Geese (including Dusky and Aleutian Canada Geese), as well as anadromous fish species in the Nestucca River watershed, including Coho, Chinook and Chum salmon.
The Bay Unit is primarily managed as short-grass pasture habitat for geese, which requires the use of tide gates, levees, ditches, and cattle. Due to old and failing infrastructure, upgrades and improvements are needed. Ducks Unlimited, working with the refuge and stakeholders, will provide engineering services to develop conceptual designs and management alternatives. Ultimately, designs will include upgrades for tide gates to meet state and federal fish passage criteria, enhance interior aquatic habitat and provide dependable management for desirable pasture conditions. Monitoring and pre-design assessments are being conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife staff and other partners including Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, The Nature Conservancy, and Nestucca, Neskowin and Sand Lake Watersheds council.
“We fully support this collaborative effort to identify and improve critical habitat for Oregon’s coastal resources and our agency is always looking for new and innovative ways of engaging public interest in complex science and land management ideas.” Kelly Moroney, project leader for Oregon Coast NWRC.
Organizations involved with the Bay Unit project look for economic and environmental outcomes that will be considered for additional projects along the Coast where improvements can maintain working ag lands, and also provide benefits to anadromous fish and other aquatic species.
“DU and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are appreciative of OWEB’s support of this initial phase for developing conceptual designs that consider cooperative, multi-species management objectives,” said Warren. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board awarded 86 grants totaling $10,554,731 to local organizations statewide to support fish and wildlife habitat and water quality projects at their April 16-17 board meeting.
“These investments will improve habitat for species ranging from sage grouse to native salmon, while also improving water quality and supporting the local natural resource economy,” says Meta Loftsgaarden, OWEB’s executive director. Grants are funded across Oregon, primarily in the state’s rural areas.
Funding for these projects comes from three primary sources – the Oregon Lottery, Salmon License Plate revenues and Federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery funds provided by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. A listing of all awarded grants is available at: https://www.oregon.gov/oweb/Documents/2019-Spring-Board-Awards-Fall2018-Offering.pdf.