Tillamook Bay Wetlands Protected (OR)

TILLAMOOK COUNTY, OR, 10/3/03 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, has protected an additional 142 acres on Tillamook Bay and transferred ownership to Tillamook County for permanent stewardship.

This latest transaction marks the final phase in an effort to protect 370 acres of tidal and freshwater wetlands between the Wilson and Trask Rivers on Tillamook Bay, one of the country’s most significant estuarine ecosystems. Tillamook County is planning restoration work that will help reestablish vital wetland habitat and reduce flooding in the city of Tillamook.

“We are grateful to Congresswoman Hooley for securing funding for the last phase of this important project,” said Tim Josi, chair of the county commissioners.

Funding for this phase of the project is coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through its Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. NOAA provides grants to state and local governments to protect key coastal lands with significant conservation, recreation, or ecological value.

“Maintaining our tidal wetlands is key to a healthy environment and ecosystem,” said Rep. Darlene Hooley. “The Tillamook Bay wetlands provide protection for juvenile salmon and other important Oregon wildlife. This grant became a priority because of its importance to Oregon’s natural habitats and I am happy to see it funded.” Hooley added, “I was pleased to work with the Trust for Public Land, the Tillamook Performance Partnership, and the Tillamook county commissioners to get this project funded.”

More than 85 percent of Tillamook Bay’s historic wetlands have been destroyed as a result of human settlement and development. The loss of these natural habitats has significantly impacted populations of salmon, migratory birds, and other native fish and wildlife.

“The wetlands in the river deltas at the south end of Tillamook Bay are some of the most important on the Oregon coast,” said Bruce Taylor of the Oregon Habitat Joint Venture, a coalition of groups and agencies that includes many of the partners in the land acquisition project. “Protection and restoration of this entire 370-acre area was one of the top priorities of the Tillamook Bay National Estuary Project. Thanks to the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, the County, and TPL – and the financial support of NOAA, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – we’ve taken some big steps toward restoring floodplain function.”

The non profit Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP) has worked closely with TPL to protect the acreage along the bay. As a National Estuary Project, TEP works to protect and restore the health of Tillamook County’s estuaries by addressing water quality degradation, habitat loss, sedimentation, and the negative impacts of flooding.

TEP’s Executive Director Mark Trenholm expressed his pleasure with the project’s success, “The Conservation Plan for Tillamook Bay calls for the enhancement of 750 acres of tidal wetland by 2010. This project is a tremendous step toward meeting that goal.”

TPL Project Manager Brenda Brown said, “We are extremely grateful to Congresswoman Hooley for helping make this project a success. Protecting the most ecologically significant areas adjacent to the Tillamook Bay estuary is of tremendous importance to the local community and we are proud to have played a part in its conservation.”

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.5 million acres of land in 46 states. In Oregon and along the Columbia River Gorge, TPL has protected more than 75,000 acres. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.