Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration

Migrating shorebirds and waterfowl are so dependent on the food supply and stopover estuary habitat in the lower Coquille River that Congress established Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge (OR) in 1983. Through congressionally approved expansion, acquisition, and donation, the Refuge now encompasses 889 acres and is composed of two units: Bandon Marsh and Ni-les'tun (named by the Coquille Tribe and pronounced NYE-les-ton, which means People by the small fish dam). Historically, Ni-les’tun was a diverse tidal wetland like Bandon Marsh but was diked and drained for agricultural purposes beginning in the mid to late 1800s. Restoring 418 acres of the tidal marsh has required FWS and its many partners to collaborate through more than ... Show More

Migrating shorebirds and waterfowl are so dependent on the food supply and stopover estuary habitat in the lower Coquille River that Congress established Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge (OR) in 1983. Through congressionally approved expansion, acquisition, and donation, the Refuge now encompasses 889 acres and is composed of two units: Bandon Marsh and Ni-les'tun (named by the Coquille Tribe and pronounced NYE-les-ton, which means People by the small fish dam). Historically, Ni-les’tun was a diverse tidal wetland like Bandon Marsh but was diked and drained for agricultural purposes beginning in the mid to late 1800s. Restoring 418 acres of the tidal marsh has required FWS and its many partners to collaborate through more than a decade of planning, land acquisition, scientific study, and extensive engineering design. 

Construction funding was from a variety of sources including: small grants and donations, ARRA, Oregon Lottery funds granted through the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and about $1.35 million from the New Carissa oil spill NRDAR settlement. With a total of about $10 million of investment, the restoration of the twice daily tidal flush is now helping to rebuild a natural estuary foodchain, including an array of fish and birds that had sustained native tribes for thousands of years. The Coquille River's Chinook and Coho salmon runs will benefit from the habitat restoration. Local regional and national visitors are anticipated to visit the marsh to experience wildlife through hiking birdwatching, and waterfowl hunting.

Over two dozen public and private partners were involved in the restoration. Ducks Unlimited (DU), oversaw the design and construction of the restoration. Planning began 2001; construction began in 2009 and was completed in 2011. The final design included the removal of 6,700 feet of levee and three tidegates, construction of setback levees and a tidegate to protect neighbors, filling 15 miles of drainage ditches, removing 3,500 feet of old farm roads, excavating 4.5 miles of sinuous tidal and stream channels, installing large woody debris for fish habitat and planting native vegetation. The project included the restoration of 11 acres of freshwater wetlands, and stream channel and fish passage improvements. FWS also coordinated with Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative to relocate major electric utilities from above ground where they would pose a flight hazard to birds, to 40 feet beneath the river bottom. FWS, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Coos County worked together to raise and repave the adjacent county road to improve safety and prevent tidal flooding. 
 
Archeology was a very important design factor on this site. FWS directed that all construction would proceed with caution, and DU worked with tribal and contract archeologists and the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure that designs were compatible with cultural resources onsite. FWS instructed construction workers to keep an eye out for anything that archeologists might want to investigate, and to stop work until they did. During the restoration, the construction unearthed evidence that powerful earthquakes and sands washed in by tsunamis had dramatically and repeatedly altered the landscape. They also found clues that humans occupied the area before and after those cataclysmic events, uncovering living sites, tools and shells dating back more than 4,000 years.
 
Economic Impacts of Restoration. As the largest tidal marsh restoration in Oregon to date, an extensive amount of work was coordinated with FWS and designed, engineered, constructed, and contracted by DU. Expenditures for the tidal marsh restoration portion of the project were about $31,000 annually during the planning phase (2001–2009) and $700,000 annually during the contracted implementation phase (2010–2011), accounting for a total restoration cost of $1.64 million ($2011). Of these costs, an average of $98,000 annually went directly to local labor income (salaries, wages, and benefits) to employee construction workers in Coos County during the implementation phase. An additional $165,000 annually went directly to scientists and project managers working within the state. Restoring the marsh was equipment intensive and required over $970,000 in materials, which were rented and purchased from businesses in Coos County. These purchases supported local equipment rental, rock quarry, and greenhouse businesses, indirectly providing five jobs and $190,000 in labor income annually in the county. In total, the project provided over $1,130,000 in labor income over the life of the project. 

This case study was first published in the FY2011 DOI Economic Contributions Report and is available at  https://www.fort.usgs.gov/sites/default/files/products/publications/23407/23407.pdf Show Less

Contact(s): Catherine M Cullinane Thomas, Christopher C Huber.

Overview

Project Period: 2010-2011

Location: Oregon

Restoration Type: Tidal Marsh Restoration

Lead Agency: Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS),Ducks Unlimited

Economic Impacts
National Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Total Project Expenditures: $1,725,000


Job-Years: Not Available

Labor Income: Not Available

Value Added: Not Available

Economic Output: Not Available

Local Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Local Project Expenditures: $1,088,000

Percent of Project Expenditures Spent Locally: 63%

Local Job-Years: 9.9

Local Labor Income: $953,000

Local Value Added: Not Available

Local Economic Output: $2,377,000

Map
Images
Ni-les'tun at Brandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.jpg
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