Habitat Purchase to Benefit Salmonby Staff
BPA Journal, February 2012
The Columbia Land Trust, Bonneville Power Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Jan. 24 the largest purchase of riverside habitat in the Columbia River estuary in nearly 40 years, permanently protecting an essential refuge for salmon, steelhead and other wildlife.
The acquisition, which will benefit salmon from Oregon, Idaho and Washington as they migrate to the ocean, is the largest step yet in the estuary to mitigate the impacts of federal dams on the Columbia and Snake river systems.
The Columbia Land Trust completed the purchase of the 920-acre Columbia Stock Ranch on the south shore of the Columbia River near Goble, Ore., with $5.3 million in BPA funding from electric ratepayers. The purchase sets the stage for the Corps of Engineers to restore hundreds of acres of historic wetlands in the next few years to provide food and shelter for salmon migrating to and from the ocean.
"The size and ecological importance of this habitat set a new benchmark for habitat protection and is a key piece in an extensive fish refuge system in the lower Columbia River," said Glenn Lamb, executive director of the Columbia Land Trust. "In the last 10 years we have worked with about 60 landowners to conserve 9,100 acres of estuarine and tributary spawning and rearing habitat. BPA has been an important partner in many of these projects. The estuary is a particularly vital nursery for young salmon, and this project is the best demonstration yet of conserving and restoring the lands that make the estuary so valuable."
An independent panel of biologists identified the parcel as an especially valuable swath of historic tidal wetlands that, if restored, would boost survival of young salmon as they transition to saltwater. Some two-thirds of estuary wetlands have been lost over the last century, but recognition of their biological significance has encouraged restoration.
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