Winter Lake on the Coquille River
Winter Lake on the Coquille River © ODFW

Stories in Oregon

Restoring Tidal Wetlands at Winter Lake

Replacing tide gates and restoring wetlands offers improved habitat for juvenile salmon and other species.

Tidal wetlands and estuaries—where rivers and oceans meet—are ecologically critical habitats, providing juvenile salmon, among other species, with the much-needed space to grow strong and healthy. However, recent research shows less than 15% of this historic habitat remains on the West Coast. 

Restoring Tidal Wetlands for Salmon Working with partners, The Nature Conservancy in Oregon restored wetlands and replaced tide gates to offer improved habitat for juvenile salmon.

Estuary Restoration for Salmon and Local Ranchers

Our work at the tidally influenced wetland known as Winter Lake, near the town of Coquille, brought together a variety of partners to improve habitat for juvenile salmon, lamprey, migratory birds and more while at the same time providing greater control and access for those who rely on the land for ranching. 

The project involved the installation of a state-of-the-art tide gate system and the creation of some 40,000-feet of winding channels cut through the 2,000-acre valley floor. Together, the solution allows for better control of the flow of water onto and off of the land during changing tides and seasonal flows.

The result enables ranchers to graze their cattle for several additional weeks each summer (allowing them to grow larger and stronger) while also providing improved conditions for juvenile salmon in the winter. Early estimates show that these changes could result in as many as 300,000 additional juvenile fish each year. Having used the wetlands at Winter Lake to rest and eat, these salmon are often twice the size of those prior to the improvements, dramatically increasing their survival rates.

Open the Door for Salmon

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Helping Nature and People Thrive

We've installed innovative new tide gates at Winter Lake on the Coquille River that allow for fish passage and for agricultural fields to be flooded for juvenile salmon when they need it. But we've got a lot more work to do. There are an estimated 3,000 tide gates in Oregon—1,500 along the coast and 1,500 on the Columbia River—that may be negatively impacting fish passage and juvenile salmon habitat. With your support, we are committed to restoring the tidal wetlands salmon need to thrive.