Enhancing habitat can help build the local economy
Ecotrust recently released a report – supported in part by NOAA – concluding that restoration projects in Oregon generated $977.5 million in economic activity and as many as 6,483 jobs between 2001 and 2010. For a local example, look no further than the McKenzie River Trust and Siuslaw Watershed Council‘s (SWC) Waite Ranch Tidal Wetland Restoration Project, located on the Siuslaw River near Mapleton.
MRT recently awarded a $22,000 contract to Leisure Excavating Inc., a local company based in Florence, for work on the Waite Ranch project. Leisure Excavating owner Gary Rose and his team are removing aging infrastructure on the property to make way for the re-establishment of 211 acres of tidal wetland habitat near Highway 126, important habitat for coastal coho, Chinook and chum salmon, steelhead, and sea-run cutthroat trout. The SWC has also received contracts and secured grant funding for the Waite Ranch project, enabling them to hire new project management staff and work with local and regional businesses.
Healthy estuary habitat is often described as a nursery for economically important fish and other marine creatures. Not only is local economic benefit being provided now through these contracts and the resulting jobs, but in the future, the Siuslaw and coastal recreational and commercial fishing industries could benefit from the habitat improvements.
The first few buildings have already come down. You can learn more about Waite Ranch and track the latest developments by visiting: https://mckenzieriver.org/protected-lands/owned-properties/waite-ranch/
Thank you to the Waite Ranch Tidal Wetland Restoration Project funders:
- NOAA Fisheries Service, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and Ecotrust – Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife – Restoration & Enhancement program
- US Fish and Wildlife Service – North American Wetlands Conservation Act
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Oregon Governor’s Fund for the Environment
- Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board – Technical Assistance grant program
- Siuslaw Watershed Council
- Individual supporters of the McKenzie River Trust and Siuslaw Watershed Council