About half of the money from the 2013 levy is dedicated to protecting water quality, controlling invasive weeds, boosting native plants and animals, and improving habitat for fish and wildlife.
Restoration takes different forms across wetlands, oak prairies and savannas, forests and rivers. It means thinning overcrowded forests to allow sunshine to reach native oaks and madrones. It means treating invasive weeds that are choking out native wildflowers. It means creating habitat for endangered fish. It means planting native shrubs and trees that help filter rainwater.
After Metro acquires a property, a stabilization plan is drawn up as the first step of the restoration process. Invasive weeds start getting treated. After stabilization, a site conservation plan is developed to restore a site to its natural, wilder roots. Restoration work can take years to complete, after which a site transitions to long-term maintenance.
More than 50 restoration projects are underway now. Weed assessments were completed in July 2015.
Multnomah Channel Marsh project boosts access to crucial habitat for juvenile salmon
As winter storms replenish the region’s waterways, juvenile salmon will find one more place to grow and thrive.
A years-long project is restoring native wetlands at Metro’s Multnomah Channel Marsh, a narrow area of more than 300 acres wedged between Highway 30 and the channel, just across from Sauvie Island.
As part of that project, work in autumn 2014 made it easier for juvenile Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout, and Pacific and brook lamprey to swim into the marsh. The improved connections are important because the marsh’s slower waters provide crucial habitat with abundant food and fewer predators, boosting the health of young salmon before their journey to the ocean.
In October 2014, crews breached two 100-foot-wide sections of the earthen berm along the channel, creating openings that will allow salmon to enter the marsh when the water level rises.
Workers also removed three culverts under the property’s sole road, replacing them with a 27-foot-wide bridge to allow fish and wildlife easier passage through the wetlands.
“A lot of the work we’ve done out here is to get water back to some semblance of what it used to be here,” Curt Zonick, a senior natural resources scientist at Metro who is leading restoration efforts at the site. “What we’ve done is to try to get water back onto the site, and then get it moving through the site.”
The project is a partnership between Metro and Ducks Unlimited. The restoration work is possible in part thanks to voters, who passed a regional parks and natural areas levy in 2013. The project also received $240,000 in grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and Ducks Unlimited.
On an autumn morning in 2014, bald eagles perched on trees across the channel as egrets, blue herons and other birds soared across the quiet landscape, occasionally landing in the wetlands to fish. Northern red-legged frogs, which previously crowded into two small beaver ponds, now lay their egg through more than 100 acres of the restored wetland.