Merkley, Wyden, Hoyle Announce Over $5 Million for Coastal Fish Habitat Restoration 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with U.S. Representative Val Hoyle (OR-04), announced a total of nearly $5.5 million in federal investments is heading to Oregon organizations for coastal climate resilience projects and restoring fish habitats. The funding comes from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund, which supports the design and implementation of projects around the country to enhance the resilience of coastal communities and improve habitat for fish and wildlife. 

“Our waterways and fish are the lifeblood of the Northwest, particularly coastal communities,” said Merkley. “This critical federal support will prepare our region to better withstand more frequent extreme weather events caused by climate chaos. These projects will help strengthen natural infrastructure while also enhancing habitat for fish populations, including our beloved coho salmon and other native fish species.” 

“Protecting Oregon’s coastal wetlands, floodplains and estuaries not only helps fight the devastating effects of climate change, but also helps increase resiliency of coastal communities against extreme weather,” Wyden said.  “This investment is a big win for Oregon’s coastal communities, and I will continue to support successful programs proven to help protect and restore our bountiful coastal habitat.

“I’m glad to see federal funding supporting the Wild Salmon Center and the McKenzie River Trust’s work to restore and protect estuaries and wetlands on the Oregon Coast,” said Rep. Hoyle. “These projects on the Alsea, Coos, Siletz, and Siuslaw rivers in Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District will reduce flood risk for coastal communities and increase habitat for salmon and other native fish species. This is a prime example of how we can effectively support coastal resilience and preserve Oregon’s natural beauty as we combat the challenges of climate change.”

“We are honored and thrilled to have received this grant award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. These funds will support estuary restoration projects that build on two decades of effort by partners at Ecotrust, the Siuslaw Watershed Council, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, the state of Oregon, federal agencies, and many dedicated local community members. They set in motion a Siuslaw Whole Watershed Restoration initiative in 2004, something that gave us all a road map for effective land and water conservation. Congressional support for integrating this work with investments for community infrastructure and resilience shows the wisdom and importance of such long-term, broad scale approaches, especially in the face of a changing climate,” said Joe Moll, Executive Director, McKenzie River Trust. 

“Wild Salmon Center and our local partners at the Coos Watershed Association and the Siuslaw Watershed Council are thrilled to receive this grant award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. These funds will support projects that will reconnect floodplains, which are vital for our threatened salmon populations, while at the same time mitigating risks associated with climate change. This dual approach of species conservation, paired with climate change resilience, will positively benefit both fish and human communities. We are grateful for all the support from Oregon’s congressional members and look forward to implementing these projects over the next three years,” said Tim Elder, Southwest Oregon Manager, Wild Salmon Center. 

Oregon project descriptions and award amounts are below: 

$3,791,657.49: Wild Salmon Center – Florence and Coos Bay, OR 

Extreme weather events threaten human lives and infrastructure, public and private properties, and ecosystems due to the increased severity and frequency of storms. Wild Salmon Center will increase climate resilience in the Coos and Siuslaw watersheds through nine restoration projects that will result in 257.5 acres of restored floodplain and 7.47 miles of restored instream habitat. The project will reduce flood hazards in coastal communities by reducing peak flows and slowing water velocities, improve water retention and quality, and recover economically vital salmon populations. 

$1,012,692.18: McKenzie River Trust – Siuslaw River’s estuary and watershed near Florence, Oregon 

Coastal communities and habitats are under increasing threats from coastal hazards, such as sea level rise, storm intensification, and other environmental stressors. The McKenzie River Trust will advance final design and permitting to restore the tidal exchange within the currently flow-restricted areas on four properties in the Siuslaw River’s estuary, increasing the availability and protection of vital rearing and feeding habitat for coho salmon and other native fish species. The project will finalize designs to restore a total of 500 acres over the next four years that will enhance the estuary’s ability to absorb the increased sea level impact of storm swells, king tides, and flooding. 

$651,021.88: Wild Salmon Center – Nehalem, Lincoln City, Waldport, and Alsea, Oregon 

Flood hazards pose a serious risk to urban areas, emergency road infrastructure, and vulnerable rural communities on the Oregon coast. Coastal resiliency to sea level rise and climate change depends upon conserving estuaries and wetlands through restoration of key ecological processes and functions including hydrological connectivity, nutrient cycling, and sediment transport. Wild Salmon Center will create final designs and secure permitting for five wetland systems across three watersheds in Nehalem, Siletz, and Alsea estuaries on the Oregon coast. The project will result in fully designed plans for 249 acres of floodwater storage, seven fish passage improvements across four miles of stream, and the restoration of 30 freshwater wetland acres and 219 acres of tidal wetlands to mitigate flood hazards, reduce erosion, and restore habitat for salmon.