WatershedStories from the Smith River Alliance Newsletter
Important Estuary Restoration Progress!
Work on the Smith River Estuary Backwater Habitat Enhancement Projectis ongoing and in winter 2023 we will install riparian plants, fencing, and begin to monitor water quality and the biological response.
Monica Scholey of Smith River Alliance is leading a project which will enhance a naturally occurring backwater feature on the south bank of the Smith River estuary, benefitting Southern Oregon and Northern Coastal California ESU coho salmon, SONCC Chinook salmon, and Klamath Mountain Province steelhead.
According to Scholey, “the project increases channel complexity along the mainstem Smith River and addresses impaired estuary function. It achieves this goal by increasing the quantity and quality of off-channel slow water rearing habitat and benefit out-migrating coho salmon smolts.”
Tidally influenced backwater habitat is extremely beneficial but rare in the Smith River estuary and this project improves connectivity to this limited habitat. Specifically, the project enhances the hydrologic connection to 660 lineal feet of off-channel habitat, and increases the duration and range of flows that allow migrating and rearing juvenile coho salmon to access the off-channel habitat feature by 94%. Two large wood structures containing fourteen logs have been installed at the entrance and thirteen single log structures were installed throughout the backwater. The riparian area will be planted with native species.
“The Smith River Estuary Backwater Habitat Enhancement Project is a success,” Scholey said. “Work on this project is ongoing and this winter we will install riparian plants, fencing, and begin to monitor water quality and the biological response, so stay in touch for updates.”
This project is one example of over 30 project elements being worked on across the Smith coastal plain.