Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nestucca River Passage Project Complete

By Alan Moore

The Farmer Creek fish passage project on the Nestucca is about done. It took about 3 years to piece together the funding, design, permitting, right-of-ways and all that fun stuff. Paving was done October 4. This is a 70-foot span concrete bridge (that’s a biggun, as these things go) rated to handle loaded trucks replacing a severely undersized, completely rusted out and collapsed fish-barrier culvert on Farmer Creek, a major Nestucca spawning and rearing tributary for chinook, steelhead, coho, cutthroat and lamprey.
Ideally projects like this only benefit the wild ones  - hatchery fish in the Nestucca or anywhere they are belong in the mainstem getting caught and harvested, not in the tribs or on redds interfering with wild fish’s work (we’re working on it). Check out the attached video clip to see how heavy equipment operators bid adieu to old culverts once they get them out of the ground. The road crossing spanned now by the new bridge is about a mile up from the confluence with the mainstem Nestucca; from there there’s now about 6 stream miles above reconnected for all life stages of fish.

The Nestucca-Neskowin Watershed Council and its intrepid leader Alex Sifford guided this thing from start to finish. The loudest applause goes to Alex, hands down, with a strong encore for the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and Liane Welch at Tillamook County Public Works. This is a classic example of a project that could not and would not have happened without every single one of its partners, too, doing its part. TU was one of those, securing funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Orvis which allowed additional funding from other sources to be leveraged to put the project into motion. The patchwork of funding involved in this one is pretty amazing (OWEB, US Forest Service PAYCO, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecotrust Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative, Tillamook County Public Works plus TU’s contributions). Without any one of those, quite literally the project doesn’t happen. TU couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of it, and we look forward to more and more and more. Next fall we have another major project on tap for another Nestucca tributary, Niagara Creek, and we’re working every day to expand our work in coastal areas we already have as well as adding new ones to the list. Added to the great work all of you and our great stable of partners are doing every single day, and seeing how quickly and dramatically fish respond to it given the smallest opening to do so, it’s impossible to say we’re not making a difference. Boom.

Culvert before and after