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South Slough Reserve gets $3.5M to fund restoration project

South Slough Reserve. Photo courtesy Gold Meadows.{p}{/p}
South Slough Reserve. Photo courtesy Gold Meadows.

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The South Slough Reserve just received $3.5 million in federal funding to help launch the restoration of the Wasson Creek and surrounding valley.

A living laboratory, the South Slough Reserve is home to many species, including Coho salmon and lamprey.

New funding from the National Estuarine Research Reserves Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Fund will back the Reserve's Wasson Creek Restoration Project, aimed at improving the habitat for those animals.

"We are restoring the upland forests, we are restoring the wetlands and the streams for fish and birds and birds and people. So the money is going largely to contractors, actually, and Oregon jobs, so we'll be employing a lot of contractors," said Reserve Stewardship Coordinator Alice Yeates.

The valley, which spans 523 acres of the 7,000 acre Reserve, features dense forest without many plants for wildlife to eat.

The money will allow the Reserve to hire forestry contractors for density thinning.

They'll also improve fish habitats.

"Those streams don't provide a lot of value for fish, and so what we're doing is we're filling in those ditches. We're bringing that stream back on to the flood plain."

Aside from restoring the habitat, Yeates says the project, which begins next month, will enhance public access.

Once the three year project is completed, Yeates says people who use the half mile trail around the valley will see more bird species and native plants.

Many of those plants will be installed by students and volunteers.

"We have a large education department here that works with schools and summer camps to bring students out to the reserve. So they're going to be helping with planting and pulling weeds and other aspects of restoration. We'll also be partnering with local universities to provide internship opportunities," said Yeates.

Using data from ground water wells, a portion of funding will also go toward improving water quality, helping oyster growers in the Slough.

"We can learn from it, and we can advise other restoration folks and people locally, nationally, and globally about what kind of restoration works," said Yeates.

Yeates tells us they're now seeking funding to restore trails and boardwalks, and to install interpretive materials discussing local Native tribes' uses of plants.

She says they’ll also bring in goats to take care of patches of thorny blackberries along the Slough's valley as part of the project.

To learn more about the project, visit

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To volunteer, contact Dr. Alice Yeates, Reserve Stewardship Coordinator at

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