FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2007
Contact: Ben Sherman, NOAA
George Cathcart, NERRS
Tree Trunks Provide Paddle Point Launch Sites, and Fish Habitat
Staff members at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in Oregonhave plenty of experience restoring salmon habitat in the shallow creeks off Coos Bay. Now they’ve found a way to help users of the creeks with the same technology.
With support of a $20,000 NOAA grant, reserve staff worked with Aron Feagre and Associates to design a facility that would provide both easy access to the South Slough waterways for paddlers and additional habitat for fish.
For several years, said reserve manager Mike Graybill, South Slough staff have been installing “large wood” in the reserve’s Winchester Creek to provide shelter for juvenile coho salmon as they make their way from upstream spawning grounds out to the ocean. These structures are little more than big tree trunks with the root wads intact, placed so the roots extend into the water. Fish find abundant hiding places in the tangle of roots. More than 50 such logs have already been installed.
Meanwhile, researchers, educators and visitors have been launching canoes and kayaks in the vicinity of the habitat restoration area without a designated launch site. The results were sometimes damaging to fragile creek banks causing unwanted erosion. When the staff decided designated canoe or kayak launch sites would protect fragile creekside banks from human comings and goings, “creating a paddle access point that also enhanced habitat was not a huge conceptual leap for us,” Graybill said.
The designers came up with an access point framed by two large (30 inches in diameter) hemlock logs that protrude 20 feet into the creek with their root wads for fish. Reserve staff believe their design is unique.
The access point itself is an eight-foot by 20-foot sloping rock apron, which provides a stable area for launching or landing canoes and kayaks. Underlying geotextile and smaller cross logs stabilize the apron and bear some of the weight of the big framing logs. A third log parallels the creek at the top of the ramp to prevent parking on the bank and facilitate use by paddle craft.
“This launch site design is a wonderful example of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s innovation and commitment to management of coastal resources for the purposes of education, research and stewardship,” said Laurie McGilvray, chief of NOAA’s estuarine reserves division in the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.
Researchers and educators as well as reserve visitors frequently use paddle craft to explore the shallow tidal waters of South Slough. The reserve plans to develop interpretive materials about the ramp to explain the large-wood fish habitat project and other habitat improvement projects in the reserve. Reserve officials hope to expand the concept and share it with other coastal managers seeking to enhance fishery habitat while still encouraging responsible access to sensitive wetland areas along the coast.
South Slough Reserve is one of 27 estuarine reserves in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Reserves, located in 22 states and Puerto Rico, are federal-state partnerships. NOAA's estuarine reserves division provides matching grants and national program guidance, and state agencies or universities provide day-to-day management.
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On the Web:
NOAA’s National Ocean Service: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov
NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserves: http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve: http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/SouthSlough/
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