Tidal Wetland Prioritization for the Tillamook Bay Estuary

Throughout the Pacific Northwest and the United States, there is increasing recognition of estuarine contributions to watershed and marine processes. This recognition has generated new interest in tidal wetland conservation and restoration. In Oregon, overall losses of tidal wetlands since the 1850’s are estimated at about 70% (Thomas 1983, Boule and Bierly 1987, Good 2000, Christy 2004), so there is a clear need for restoration. Conservation of remaining tidal wetlands is equally important. Because each estuary offers a wide variety of restoration and conservation opportunities, strategic planning is needed to reach conservation and restoration goals. Prioritization of tidal wetlands for protection and restoration was established as a goal in the Tillamook Bay National Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (TBNEP 1998).

This prioritization is designed to provide strategic focus for tidal wetland conservation and restoration actions undertaken in partnership with willing landowners. The study highlights locations in the Tillamook Bay estuary where tidal wetland restoration or conservation action may offer the biggest ecological “bang for the buck” – that is, the highest potential to protect or increase estuary functions. The information provided by this study provides a basis for working with interested landowners to develop site-specific action plans.

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