Project Update – Fivemile Bell Restoration Project

Upper Bell before
Upper Bell after

This project is only possible thanks to our partners and funders at the US Forest Service, The Siuslaw Institute, Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, Elkton Community Learning Center, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through the Wild Salmon Center.

SWC continues to work with the U.S. Forest Service and other partners to restore sections of Fivemile and Bell creeks near Tahkenitch Lake. This summer marks the fifth and final phase of the 100-acre restoration project enhancing over four continuous stream miles above and below the confluence of these salmon-bearing streams. Benefits of this restoration include improved wildlife habitat, a more dynamic floodplain environment that supports biodiversity of native species, cleaner water, a higher water table through late summer, and resilience to a changing climate, flood, drought and wildfire.

Local contractors will restore natural floodplain elevations, scrape away levees and spoil piles, fill irrigation ditches, and watch as Fivemile and Bell creeks flow freely once again. Hydrologists, Ecologists, and Fish Biologists from the U.S. Forest Service designed this restoration project and they ensure native animals are protected during the summer restoration period. This winter, SWC and USFS Botanists will collaborate with Tribal partners to establish natural plant communities.

In Phase 5, we will place over 150 pieces of large wood in the floodplain, spread over 200 pounds of seed and plant 15 acres with upland, riparian and emergent wetland species. Restoration partners will control introduced, weedy species such as reed canary grass on over five acres. Restoring the natural hydrology is integral in establishing a native plant distribution and the benefits to wildlife are greater when these processes are restored together. Enjoy a walk through this project next spring and you will see schools of rearing salmon fry, great egrets foraging in the emergent vegetation, and beavers colonizing the willow galleries.

Phase 1 Transect Photo Before Restoration 2013
Fivemile Phase 2 before
Phase 1 Transect after 2018
Fivemile Phase 2 after