Over 70 years ago, a dike was built to turn Columbia River wetlands into farms. But the tide is about to change with a restoration project that will return the land to the kind of wetlands that help young salmon rest and grow.
Purchased by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the Columbia Land Trust for $5.3 million, the 920-acre Columbia Stock Ranch is the biggest, single habitat acquisition in the Columbia estuary in 40 years. The BPA, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Native American tribes have been combing the Columbia basin for habitat projects to mitigate dam operations that have led to the placement of 13 runs of salmon and steelhead on endangered or threatened lists.
This year, the Columbia Land Trust, BPA and the Army Corps of Engineers will develop their plan for restoring the ranch and will include opportunities for public comment on the project. Work will begin in 2013 and is expected to take at least five years to complete.
Evlon Childs, project manager for the Corps, says of the project: “The land was totally disconnected from the river. Now we are trying to reconnect it so nature can take care of itself.”