Whole Valley (Stage 0) Restoration Project
Oregon Lottery – OWEB Fivemile Bell
A large-scale restoration of watershed processes on tributaries to Tahkenitch Lake.
Fivemile and Bell Creeks form the largest tributary to Tahkenitch Lake on the Central Oregon Coast, 11 air miles south of Florence. These streams historically supported some of the strongest runs of Oregon Coast Coho salmon. In 2003, the Forest Service acquired significant portions of the sub-basin with the goal of restoring watershed functions and Oregon Coast Coho salmon runs. In a collaboration of many other partners, SWC manages the riparian revegetation component of the 4.5 mile restoration project along the two streams.
The 112-acre project site was once a complex, interbraded stream channel that flooded its banks regularly during the rainy season. Wetland plant communities grew on small islands separating many channels that slowly meandered across the 400-foot-wide floodplain, creating ideal rearing habitat for young Coho salmon. By the 1950’s ranchers had straightened and consolidated these complex channels down to one larger channel pushed against the side of the valley andwetland plant communities were converted to pasture grasses so dairy cattle could graze the floodplain.
Site remediation began with restoring the native plants to Fivemile-Bell beginning in ‘Phase I’ during 2011. Prior to planting, our partners at the Forest Service and The Siuslaw Institute removed the levees that kept Fivemile Creek locked in place. With the channel restored to its complex form, SWC could reintroduce the natural wetland plant communities that help sustain healthy Coho populations and biodiversity.
Since the project began in 2011, SWC and partners have implemented four phases of restoration in the valley. The final regrading was completed in 2018 but the establishment of native vegetation is expected to continue through 2022.