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Columbia County wetland projects earn state recognition

State Land Board awarded projects in Clatskanie and Sauvie Island


SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Karin Hunt walks her property in Clatskanie, where she teamed up with state officials to create a wetland she called Batwater Station on her land near the Clatskanie River. The Batwater Station Floodplain Restoration Project was recognized by the State Land Board for its positive impact on the environment.Two wetland restoration projects in Clatskanie and Sauvie Island received recognition from the State Land Board.

Organizers behind the Batwater Station Floodplain Restoration Project and the Sauvie Island North Unit Restoration Project received 2015 Wetland Project Awards for “promoting responsible, sustainable stewardship of state natural resources,” a Tuesday, April 12, press release from the board stated.

Batwater Station restoration revives floodplain

In Clatskanie, property owner Karin Hunt partnered with conservation agencies to restore the Batwater Station floodplain. They built tidal channels, planted native shrubs, removed invasive grasses and brought in woody debris to restore 26 acres of wetlands. The area was then reconnected to the Columbia River.

To complete the project, Hunt worked with the Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District, Lower Columbia River Watershed Council and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership.

“It was a wonderful honor,” Margaret Magruder, Lower Columbia Watershed Council coordinator, said of the award. “We were very proud of our project and all of our partners that were involved in it it.”

Sauvie Island wetlands increase in size

On Sauvie Island, the North Unit Restoration Project resulted in the creation of more than 330 acres of freshwater and side channel wetlands over a three-year period. As a result, wetland plant counts increased by 25,000.

Tom Josephson, a project manager for the Columbia River Estuary Study Task Force, said the project also helped open up waterways for juvenile and endangered salmon to thrive. Additionally, waterfowl that use the island benefited, he said, making the project hugely beneficial to both species.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and PC Trask and Associates partnered to effecuate the project with funding from Bonneville Power Adminstration.

Students from Sauvie Island Academy also contributed through an education outreach program. Sixth- through eighth-grade students not only learned about the site's ecology, but also planted 800 willows and 300 wapato bulbs, the press release said.

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