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The Northwest Region
The coastal habitats of the Northwest Region, including coastal wetlands, shellfish beds, and salmon-bearing streams, are as diverse as the fisheries they support. But they also face challenges from development, erosion, fish passage barriers, and pollution. Since 1996, the NOAA Restoration Center has supported nearly 500 community restoration projects in the Northwest Region, benefiting more than 4,500 acres of estuarine and riparian habitat and opening approximately 800 miles of in-stream salmon habitat.
What We Do
In Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, 27 populations of salmonids are listed as threatened or endangered as a result of habitat loss and over harvesting. Nearly half of historic tidal wetlands have disappeared from Oregon’s coastal estuaries; in Puget Sound, Washington more than 80 percent of tidal wetlands have been lost and vast areas of floodplain wetlands have been cut off from rivers by levees or filled for development. We work with our partners to reconnect these marshes and floodplains to tidal flow. We also restore spawning and rearing habitats for fish and improve fish passage by removing dams or replacing undersized culverts.
Case Study—Fisher Slough marsh restoration project
The Fisher Slough marsh restoration project in Washington State improved fish passage to 15 miles of stream and restored 60 acres of freshwater marsh habitat. Through our partnership with The Nature Conservancy, we helped to upgrade floodgates, relocate and consolidate drainage infrastructure, build setback levees, and dig new tidal channels in the marsh. These improvements provided salmon with critical rearing habitat that had been isolated from the river for more than a century.
The habitat improvements also had the immediate benefit of supporting 23 jobs and increasing flood protection for local farmers and their neighbors. In fact, a recent study found that the $7.7 million invested in the project may provide $8-$21 million in benefits to the community over the next several decades. Now that’s a sound investment!
The improvements made at Fisher Slough are estimated to support an additional 16,000 young Chinook salmon. Not only did the project succeed in restoring valuable habitat for threatened fish, it also:
- Reduced drainage and irrigation maintenance costs for the local community by updating antiquated drainage and flood protection infrastructure
- Reduced flood damage to agriculture and local infrastructure in the community
- Increased farming opportunities.
Northwest Region Funding Listserv