‘To help save these iconic species’

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Efforts to restore a river in western Oregon appear to have been successful — but there is still more work to be done.

The McKenzie River Trust recently concluded its work on a 150-acre property called Finn Rock Reach. Last summer, a berm that had redirected the river was removed, a milestone for the project that saw both water and wildlife return.

“The most beautiful part of it, to me, was that almost instantaneously the animals came back,” restoration projects manager John Trimble told KPIC4. “Beavers came in immediately, the next morning there were dozens of turtles swimming around the site. As soon as water fills up something that we’ve worked on, there’s dragonflies, there’s mayflies, there’s caddisflies, they come in instantly.”

The McKenzie River Trust purchased the property in 2016 to restore it to its former glory as a wildlife sanctuary. The Trust’s goal was to return the area to the condition it would have been in 400 years ago, before the arrival of European settlers.

While the project was intended to help all the local wildlife, it was especially important to create a habitat for salmon to breed.

“In the Pacific Northwest, we may only have salmon for another 20 years just based off of a lot of studies that are looking at how climate is changing, how rivers are changing and what habitat is available for these iconic species,” Eli Tome, the Trust’s conservation director explained. “And so we really need to be thinking big and thinking about what is the most we can do to help save these iconic species that are so culturally important to those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest.”

Other restoration projects around the world have similarly sought to return rivers to the natural state they were in prior to human intervention — these include projects in England, California, and another similar one in Oregon.

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