|Tillamook Bay National Estuary Project ($330,000 in FY2000)|
Blind Slough Project ($3,500 in NEP funds and $15,440 in 319 funds)
Issues & Context: The long term nature of our commitment to NEPs allows for support of projects that develop over time. As the Tillamook Bay NEP identified its environmental problems, the loss of tidal fish habitat was noted as a priority issue for salmon resources. Early demonstration work subsequently tested "fish-friendly" tide gate designs to allow fish access to side channel sloughs that had previously been cut off by levies. The project described below successfully builds on this earlier work.
Project Description: The NEP started the Blind Slough project in the summer of 1998 planning to replace blocked tide gates to return the slough to its former function as a salt-fresh water transition zone for fish use. Such areas are relatively rare in the lower Tillamook Delta and this one was the most important sloughs of all those investigated. About one and one half miles of slough, including side sloughs, were cut off from functioning. Permission was requested and received from landowners. Permits were applied for from Tillamook County, US Army Corps of Engineers, and Oregon Department of State Lands. [Funding was applied for from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (319 funds) and from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to complete the project.] Funding for construction ($30,880) was secured in the Fall of 2000 from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (319 funds) and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board [and we proceeded to mark the project up for completion]. The tide gates were built in the Spring of 2001 and installation was completed in July of 2001. All the concept development, project planning, and contract preparation and management were made possible by the basic NEP support provided by EPA.
Results: This project resulted in quick improvements to approximately 4 acres of tidal marsh habitat. Prior to the installation of the new tide gates there was no evidence of smolt using the slough even though there were many sightings of them on the river side of the levee. Within twenty four hours after installation hundreds of smolt moved up into the slough and were observed jumping. A plentiful supply of insects should provide good food for the fish increasing their chances of survival. Similar quick changes were observed in the vegetation in the slough. Prior to this project the slough was covered with a fresh water weed (Parrots Foot) so thick that it was very hard to paddle a boat through it. Within seven days of the introduction of salt water to the slough the Parrots Foot was gone and the slough was clear and bright.
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