Projects will Conserve Acres, Improve Habitat and Provide Public Access
Three organizations in Washington and Oregon were awarded 2019 Small North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) funds from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service this spring. While each project conserves unique properties in their respective areas, they have several things in common: they will benefit birds of the Pacific Americas Flyway, they will allow public access, and the federal funds are leveraged with significant state and private funds.
The North Coast Land Conservancy (NCLC) in Oregon was awarded a Small NAWCA grant to help acquire 73 acres in the Tillamook Bay Estuary. Working with additional funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, NCLC will acquire, manage and steward the bird-rich wetlands. Tillamook Bay is the coastal endpoint for five large rivers and is an important wintering area for Pacific Flyway waterfowl, as well as shorebirds and waterbirds.
Of the project’s 73 acres, 63 acres are classified as palustrine emergent wetlands and almost 2 acres are classified as palustrine forested wetlands; both of these wetland types are nationally declining. The acreage also has both floodplain and off channel habitat, important for maintaining natural flow and supporting multiple fish and wildlife species.
Skagit Land Trust in Washington will use NAWCA funds to purchase 10 coastal acres on Samish Island, located in Pacific Birds Northern Puget Lowlands focus area. The Small NAWCA purchase is part of a larger project of 35 acres where the land trust will work with community partners to remove invasive species, plant native species, install bird boxes and conduct additional restoration and enhancement activities. Seven matching partners are involved with this project, including Ducks Unlimited, businesses and private individuals and entities.
In the long term, the land trust will improve habitat for wetland-dependent species and improve the public access that promotes birdwatching and outdoor recreation.
Also in Oregon, Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah was awarded grant funds to enhance habitats along the Willamette River. The Eugene-based non-profit has secured previous NAWCA grants and worked with partners to restore and enhance sites at the confluence of the Middle and Coast Forks of the Willamette River. The current Willamette Confluence Wetlands project will enhance habitats on 31 wetland and upland acres owned by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). The project will particularly benefit waterfowl using the river and wetlands and a suite of landbirds that use the wetlands and riparian areas.
As with the other two Small NAWCA projects, the grant recipients will work collaboratively to accomplish their goals – in this case, OPRD will contribute matching funds towards the project and non-match contributions such as staff time. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board is providing match funds, and a cadre of community volunteers will help with invasive species management and planting native species.