The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its valued tidal marsh restoration partners have been recognized by the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) for the recently completed Ni-les’tun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project on Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).  The restoration partners were presented Oregon’s “2012 Fishery Team of the Year Award” at the Awards Luncheon held during the 48th Annual Meeting of the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in Eugene, Oregon on March 1, 2012.

The 418-acre tidal marsh restoration project was completed on Bandon Marsh NWR in the summer of 2011.  It is the largest tidal marsh restoration project ever constructed in Oregon.  In addition to the Service, restoration partners recognized at the luncheon included the Federal Highway Administration, the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, and the Estuarine Technical Group of the Institute for Applied Ecology.

“The Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society is one of the most respected, progressive, and productive chapters in the country”, noted Roy W. Lowe, Project Leader for the Oregon Coast NWR Complex.  “Its membership is comprised of the top fisheries researchers and managers in the state from academia, federal, state, and local agencies, Tribes, watershed councils, and the private sector and all of the team members are deeply honored to be recognized by this group of professionals”, said Lowe.

“Estuarine habitat is incredibly important for a wide array of species that includes not only Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead, but coastal cutthroat trout, lamprey, and a variety of marine fish. This project has dramatically increased the ecological value of the Coquille River estuary”, said Demian Ebert, Oregon AFS Past President. “The immediate success of the project was made possible only by a team of people working together for years to plan and implement the project. The Bandon Marsh Restoration Team exemplifies what the Fishery Team of the Year award is all about.”

The Coquille River Estuary has suffered the greatest percentage loss (94%) of tidal wetlands in the state of Oregon.  The restoration project is benefiting a host of estuarine- dependent fish, particularly salmonids including coastal cutthroat trout, juvenile Chinook salmon and threatened coho salmon.  Recent survey work by Service fisheries biologists documented juvenile coho salmon present throughout the five miles of the newly constructed sinuous tidal channels within the Bandon Marsh restoration area.

The Oregon AFS Fisheries Team of the Year Award recognizes outstanding collaborative team work to understand and manage fisheries resources, and acknowledges that these efforts frequently cross geographic, disciplinary and socioeconomic boundaries.

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