Columbia-Pacific Passage Habitat Restoration
at Megler Creek

 

Project Location: Columbia River Estuary, Washington

 

Background: The Megler Creek Restoration is one part of the Columbia-Pacific Passage Habitat Restoration Project, a multi-phase project sponsored by CREST involving three separate tributaries to the Columbia River estuary. The three sites are located within 9 miles of each other on the Columbia River shoreline in southwest Washington. The proposed sites of this large-scale restoration effort include Fort Columbia, which was restored in 2010 as part of Phase I of the project, Megler Creek, which is the site currently being proposed for funding, and Hungry Harbor, which will be completed during the third phase of the restoration strategy. Restoration is needed in this estuarine reach of the Columbia River because extensive historical alterations of the shoreline have eliminated the majority of off-channel foraging and rearing opportunities in this important migration corridor. Almost the entire lower river shoreline in Washington from Knappton Cove to the town of Chinook is riprapped. Most of the historical estuarine tributaries that once served as off-channel habitat for migrating and
spawning salmon have been disconnected from the Columbia mainstem by inappropriately sized and placed culverts. Fish presence studies conducted by NOAA on the Columbia River mainstem indicate that the North Channel is the primary route
taken by outgoing juvenile salmonids in the Columbia River system. Therefore, correcting the existing fish passage barrier and reconnecting off-channel rearing habitat necessary for migrating salmonids along this widely used route is vitally important for improving salmonid survival for ESA listed fish in the estuary, as well as fish utilizing Megler Creek. Restoration actions proposed for the Megler Creek project will involve replacing an undersized culvert to correct the fish passage barrier and improve access to 2.2 miles of upstream spawning habitat, as well as improve off-channel rearing habitat by enhancing tidal connection to 1.3 acres of estuarine wetlands.\

 

Purpose: This project will address the fish passage barrier at Megler Creek by replacing the undersized existing culvert that is impassable to fish during the majority of tidal and flow cycles, with a larger culvert that will allow fish passage and improve tidal connection to 2.2 stream miles of upstream habitat. Installing a fully passable structure will address limiting factors such as loss of habitat connectivity, blockages to off-channel/stream habitats, loss of side-channel or side-channel habitats, altered nutrient exchange processes, availability of preferred habitat (shallow water, peripheral habitats), and macrodetrius-based food web. Restoration actions at Megler Creek will consist of replacing a dilapidated undersized (48-inch) perched corrugated metal culvert at the confluence of the creek and the Columbia River with a 25-foot wide by 10 foot tall full stream simulation concrete box culvert. Project actions will also involve realignment and enhancement of 300 linear feet of the Megler Creek channel to provide maximum habitat benefits for salmonids seeking off-channel refugia. Enhancement actions will include installation of large wood habitat structures, creation of small pilot channels off of the mainstem of Megler Creek to increase floodplain connectivity and available off-channel habitat, and installation of native wetland and riparian vegetation.

 

Species that benefit: 

Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Chum (Oncorhynchus keta)

 

Evaluating success: 

*Fish sampling
*PIT tag monitoring
Sediment Accretion
Water Surface Elevation
Water Temperature
Photo Points
Vegetation Monitoring
**Prey Availability
(*indicates pending permit approval, **pending NPS approval/funding)

 

Project partners: National Park Service, Washington Department of Transportation, Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board, Bonneville Power Administration

 

Climate change strategies addressed by this project: 

3.2 Promote habitat connectivity and integrity.

 

National Conservation Strategies addressed by this project: 

2. Restore hydrologic conditions for fish.
3. Reconnect fragmented fish habitats.
4. Restore water quality.

 

 

Megler channel spanning log structure

 

Megler creek restoration

 

Megler creek restoration

 

Megler creek temporary fish by-pass channel

 

Megler creek project photos

 

Pre-restoration

Pre-restoration

Post-restoration

Post restoration