Tillamook Bay is the third largest estuary on the Oregon coast, fed by five rivers: the Tillamook, the Trask, the Wilson, the Miami and the Kilchis.
The lower reaches of these rivers merge with tidal wetland habitats that are critical to species of Tillamook Bay, especially chum salmon and the threatened Oregon Coast coho salmon.
Though it met a need at the time, draining these wetlands for agricultural use also produced some adverse effects. The few wetlands that remained were not enough to sustain salmon populations, and these altered conditions left Tillamook at high risk for flooding.
The Nature Conservancy is working in the Tillamook Bay along the Kilchis River to restore these historic floodplain wetlands.
The Conservancy’s restoration plan at the Kilchis Estuary Preserve involves removing dikes to reconnect the floodplain with the river, creating tidal channels that provide rearing habitat for salmonids and planting native species to restore spruce swamp wetlands.
These restoration efforts will also expand Tillamook Bay’s capacity to absorb floodwaters as it restores the vitality and functionality of a much-needed ecosystem for fish and wildlife.
Flags shown here represent the meander of one of the soon-to-be re-constructed channels. Work such as this at the Kilchis Estuary Preserve began in June 2015. The entire project is expected to be completed in September 2015, with re-vegetation efforts ongoing for several years.
Included on The National Fish Habitat Partnership’s 2015 “Waters to Watch” list, work at the Kilchis Estuary Preserve is a priority for The Nature Conservancy. We believe restoring these tidal wetlands will offer an impressive return on investment that benefits the community and wildlife.