Tag Archives: flooding

NMFS Shares Salmon Habitat Gains, Flood-threat Reduction From Tillamook Estuary Work

THE FOLLOWING IS A NEWS STORY FROM THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE

NOAA’s work with community partners restoring estuary habitat in Tillamook Bay, Oregon is revitalizing tidal wetlands for threatened Oregon Coast coho salmon, and helping reduce flooding in the surrounding communities and farmlands.

The project’s benefits to fish were realized immediately—443 acres of different estuary habitats critical to juvenile salmon are now available, including mud flats, open water with vegetation, marsh and others. Often called “nurseries of the sea,” estuaries offer unique conditions, like slow moving water and tides that bring in nutrients, which keep fish safe and allow them to grow.

BEFORE AND AFTER IMAGES FROM THE TILLAMOOK ESTUARY PARTNERSHIP SHOW THE EFFECT OF REMOVING LEVEES AND TIDE GATES NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE TRASK RIVER. (TILLAMOOK ESTUARY PARTNERSIHP VIA NMFS)

A recently published report also confirms the project’s flood reduction goals were achieved. Shortly after project completion, in October 2017, a flood occurred at the site. Our restoration work resulted in widespread reduction in flood levels and duration including along Highway 101, a key commercial and transportation corridor. In total, about 4,800 acres around the project site showed reductions in flood levels.

This project, like many others we work on, shows how restoring habitat back to its natural functions can help coastal communities be more resilient against severe weather. Nature-based approaches are being shown to provide these, and many other economic benefits, along both the the east and west coasts of the United States.

Almost 90 percent of the Tillamook Estuary’s historic tidal wetlands have been lost to development and agriculture. Like many other species relying on estuary and wetland habitats, loss of these areas is a primary contributor to the decline of Oregon Coast coho salmon.

Additionally, Oregon’s winters bring storm surges, heavy rainfall, and snow melt. Combined with high tides, this often causes flooding in the area. Flood losses in Tillamook County exceeded $60 million from 1996 – 2000.

ESTUARIES ARE IMPORTANT HABITAT FOR COHO SMOLTS ALONG WITH THE YOUNG OF OTHER SALMON SPECIES. (ROGER TABOR, USFWS)

To achieve the mutually beneficial project goals, old levees, fill, and tide gates were removed to create tidal estuary habitat. This functions as a “flow corridor,” allowing flood waters to move freely and quickly away from the town of Tillamook. Now, nearby properties and more than 500 structures are protected from flooding. It’s estimated that $9.2 million in economic benefits will accrue from avoided flood damages over the next 50 years.

The project reconnected hundreds of acres of marsh habitat and restored 13 miles of new tidal channels. This will significantly benefit Endangered Species Act-listed Oregon Coast coho salmon. Historically, more than 200,000 of these salmon would return to Tillamook Bay each year. That number was down to just 2,000 in 2012. This habitat is critical for juvenile salmon to feed and grow, and will help with the broader goal of species recovery along Oregon’s entire coast.

The Southern Flow Corridor Project is the result of tremendous community support and collaboration. NOAA Fisheries’ Restoration Center, within the Office of Habitat Conservation, and the West Coast Regional Office, worked with more than a dozen local, state, federal, tribal and private partners on this effort.

BRYCE MOLENKAMP PREPARES TO NET A SALMON ON TILLAMOOK BAY. (MARK VEARY)

Key partners include the Port of Tillamook Bay, Tillamook Bay Habitat and Estuary Improvement District, Tillamook County, the State of Oregon, FEMA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Institute for Applied Ecology, and the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership. We provided funding for the project through the Community-based Restoration Program and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, and on-the-ground technical assistance.

Flooding Closes WDFW Campgrounds, Roads, River Accesses in Okanogan Co.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Flooding has forced local officials and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to close several roads and campgrounds at three wildlife areas and numerous water access sites in Okanogan County.

WDFW’S DRISCOLL ISLAND UNIT, WHERE THE SIMILKAMEEN AND OKANOGAN RIVERS CONVERGE, HAS BEEN INUNDATED BY FLOODWATERS CAUSED BY RAPID MELTOFF OF MOUNTAIN SNOWPACK. (JUSTIN HAUG, WDFW)

The closures are intended to protect the public and prevent property damage, said Justin Haug, WDFW Okanogan Lands Operations Manager. Runoff due to snowmelt is causing significant flooding in the area, where water levels are anticipated to remain high for several more weeks. Areas will reopen when conditions improve, he said.

THE SINLAHEKIN ROAD HAS BEEN WASHED OUT NEAR BLUE LAKE. (JUSTIN HAUG, WDFW)

Closures or access restrictions are in effect as of May 17 at the following locations in the Sinlahekin, Methow, and Scotch Creek wildlife areas:

Sinlahekin:

  • Sinlahekin Road from Reflection Pond to Blue Lake.
  • Fish Lake East, West and Southwest Campground.
  • Sinlahekin Creek Campground.
  • Southeast Forde Lake Campground.
  • Reflection Pond Campground.
  • Conners Lake Campground.
  • Driscoll-Eyhott Island Unit (underwater).

FLOODWATERS SURGE AGAINST AN ADA FOOTBRIDGE ON THE DAVE BRITTELL TRAIL, IN THE SINLAHEKIN WILDLIFE AREA. (JUSTIN HAUG, WDFW)

Methow:

  • Bear Creek Campground No. 2 (also known as Lower Bear Creek).
  • Cougar Lake Campground.

Scotch Creek:

  • Hess Lake Road.
  • Similkameen-Chopaka Unit (mostly underwater)

WDFW Water Access Sites along the Okanogan, Methow and Chewuch rivers are also closed.

EYHOTT ISLAND, BELOW DRISCOLL ISLAND, HAS ALSO BEEN FLOODED. (JUSTIN HAUG, WDFW)

NMFS Highlights How White R. Levee Fix Helps Homeowners, Salmon, Habitat

THE FOLLOWING IS A NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE STORY

Puget Sound salmon got a boost this summer from a redesigned levee in Pacific, WA. While local leaders were determined to reduce frequent flooding of neighborhoods and businesses, NOAA and partners provided expertise in habitat restoration, as well as a portion of the funding. The results? King County improved resilience to flooding along the unpredictable river, and restored much-needed salmon habitat in the process.

AN ENGINEERED LOGJAM, PART OF A “BIO-REVETMENT” LEVEE ALONG THE WHITE RIVER IN PACIFIC, IN SOUTHWEST KING COUNTY. (NMFS)

The White River Chinook are among the local fish listed as Threatened. Decades of degraded habitat and overfishing have diminished wild salmon numbers. Since salmon need specific conditions for successful reproduction, habitat restoration is a critical priority. More off-channel habitat means the young fish are bigger and stronger when they head out to sea, thus more likely to make it home to their river for spawning.

The old White River levee, built in 1914, ran along the narrow channel of the river, cutting off the floodplain. With today’s knowledge of nature-based infrastructure, project engineers are able to reduce flooding and benefit salmon. Young fish gained an additional 121 acres off-channel habitat, more than a mile of natural shoreline, and thousands of sheltered places to eat, rest and grow. Eighteen acres replanted with native flora reinforces a protective riparian border.

NOAA Fisheries is committed to conserving and protecting listed species like the Chinook. This is one of multiple projects funded under the Commencement Bay Natural Resources Damage Assessment settlement that resulted from NOAA’s joint effort cleaning up after a nearby hazardous waste release.

“NOAA and partners provided $4.8 million dollars toward protecting the community,” said NOAA technical monitor Jason Lehto. “But salmon and other wildlife get substantial benefit, too.”

THE WHITE RIVER OVERTOPS AN OLD LEVEE FOLLOWING AN OCTOBER 2017 AND SURGING INTO A RESTORED FLOODPLAIN THAT HAD BEEN DRY FOR A CENTURY. (NMFS)

In October, a sudden storm pushed the river up and over the old levee, which breached as planned. The excess water spread over reconnected lowlands without flooding any nearby property. With more unpredictable sea levels and weather ahead, communities are turning to nature -based infrastructure solutions to find solutions like the White River/Countyline levee. The neighborhood is safer, and the White River Chinook have one more edge against extinction.

Some State Lands In Okanogan Closed Due To Flooding

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Several roads and campgrounds on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wildlife areas in Okanogan County are closed due to flooding.

Areas closed to motor vehicles to protect public safety and prevent further damage are posted with signs and will remain closed until conditions improve, said Justin Haug, WDFW Sinlahekin Wildlife Area manager. More rain is expected in the area this week, he said, so the closures are in effect indefinitely.

FLOODING ON SINLAHEKIN CREEK. (WDFW)

Closed areas on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area are:

  • Sinlahekin Road from Reflection Pond to Blue Lake
  • Fish Lake West and Southwest Campground
  • Sinlahekin Creek Campground
  • Southeast Forde Lake Campground
  • Reflection Pond Campground
  • Conners Lake Campground

On the Methow Wildlife Area, access to Beaver Creek Campground and Campbell Lake is limited to the route via Lester Road. Brandon Troyer, WDFW Methow Wildlife Area manager, said recreationists should watch for posted signs about motor vehicle closures at:

  • Bear Creek #2 (also known as Lower Bear Creek) Campground
  • Cougar Lake Campground

ACCORDING TO WDFW, THIS AMOUNT OF WATERS HASN’T BEEN SEEN ON THIS PART OF THE SCOTCH CREEK WILDLIFE AREA SINCE THE 1990S. (WDFW)

Closed areas on the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area are:

  • Hess Lake Road
  • Parking lot for the Coulee Creek Trailhead