May 24, 2024

Wyden, Merkley Announce NOAA Recommendations for Oregon Fish Passage Projects

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries’ recommendations for Oregon fish passage projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Salmon and other native fish are so central to our culture and economies here in Oregon, and it is essential to help recovery efforts after years of population decline,” Wyden said. “These projects are vital to restoring and preserving our beautiful Oregon waterways, and I will continue to fight for resources to continue such efforts.”

“The health of our communities goes hand-in-hand with the health of our ecosystems and the condition of our infrastructure,” said Merkley. “These projects will help strengthen and restore natural infrastructure and reconnect fish habitats and migration routes—initiatives critically important to boosting salmon recovery efforts and investing in the long-term viability of Oregon’s waterways”

The recommendation for federal funds come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries’ Office of Habitat Restoration and will be distributed as follows in Oregon:

  • Mary’s River Watershed Council - There and back again: A salmonid's tale to restored fish passage in the Mid-Willamette    
  • Multnomah County - Beaver Creek Fish Passage Restoration at Troutdale Rd   
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife - Keno Dam Fish Passage Alternatives Analysis, Feasibility Study, and Initial Design     
  • Tillamook Estuaries Partnership - Sitka Sedge Tidal Wetland Habitat Restoration
  • Trout Unlimited - Salmon SuperHwy Priority Fish Passage Restoration        
  • Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians - Waite Ranch Tidal Wetland Restoration Project    
  • Coquille Indian Tribe - Restoring Cultural Species Passage in the Coquille River Watershed Across Four Project Sites and Building Tribal Capacity  

Wyden and Merkley are champions of habitat restoration and the fight against the effects of the climate crisis. Earlier this year, Wyden and Merkley announced $6.9 million for coastal ecosystem resiliency projects. In February, Wyden and Merkley also announced $27 million for projects supporting Pacific salmon recovery efforts.

“Coquille River salmon runs are in a state of crisis.  Habitat degradation, outdated hatchery infrastructure, and fish passage barriers are critical challenges the Tribe and our community partners are tackling holistically to restore the abundance our river once blessed us with.  The Coquille Tribe is thankful to have Senator Wyden and the full of our Congressional delegation working with us to save our Coquille River salmon,” said Chair Brenda Meade, Coquille Indian Tribe.

“We are very excited to receive this grant award in order to continue the work to restore the wetland to the Waite Ranch. This project is very important to the Tribe. This is within the Siuslaw Tribe’s ancestral territory and is of particular interest to myself and others as Siuslaw People. I have passed this property since I can remember and can’t wait to see it in its natural state. Even more important is the restoration of this wetland for the salmon and other species that will soon inhabit the property,” said Chairman Brad Kneaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. 

“We are honored that our proposal has been recommended for funding. This work builds upon 16 years of close regional collaboration between the Calapooia, Luckiamute, Marys River, North Santiam, and South Santiam Watershed Councils. We are grateful to be given this opportunity to continue to restore watersheds in the mid-Willamette and build a more resilient climate. The proposed work will restore fish passage at 18 different sites across the Mid-Willamette region, opening up access to 43 miles of high quality spawning and rearing habitat for a variety of native fish, including spring Chinook salmon and winter steelhead trout,” said Holly Purpura, Executive Director, of Mary’s River Watershed Council.

“It is an honor to be recommended for funding. The Salmon SuperHwy’s progress is only possible because of our collaborative partnership around the shared mission of building lasting infrastructure to benefit the whole community. By replacing undersized and failing culverts, we can reconnect essential habitats for fish and aquatic organisms, while at the same time improve the transportation system, decrease flooding, and increase climate resilience. We thank Senators Wyden and Merkley for their continued support of the Salmon SuperHwy Partnership,” said Liz Ransom, Program Director for Trout Unlimited’s Salmon Superhwy Program.

“We are honored to receive funding for substantial progress on this community and salmon focused project.  With it, we'll finalize landscape designs to reconnect 68-acres of tidal wetlands and to remove fish passage barriers. Our plans prioritize no adverse effects on the nearby community's flood protection and climate change resiliency, while ensuring the trail network remains accessible for recreation,” said Dr. Kristi Foster, Executive Director of Tillamook Estuaries Partnership.