Oregon

Drift CreekAlsea River

Restoring one of the healthiest estuaries on the Oregon Coast
In 2012, WRC bolstered hopes that coho salmon might someday thrive again on the Oregon coast when it conveyed a second conservation property along Drift Creek, in the Alsea River estuary, to Siuslaw National Forest.
In 2012, WRC bolstered hopes that coho salmon might someday thrive again on the Oregon coast when it conveyed a second conservation property along Drift Creek, in the Alsea River estuary, to Siuslaw National Forest.
Photography | Russ Schnitzer
The Alsea River was once the most productive coho salmon stream in Oregon, and its estuary is now the focus of a coho recovery effort. WRC worked to enhance this effort by conserving lands within the Alsea River estuary.
The Alsea River was once the most productive coho salmon stream in Oregon, and its estuary is now the focus of a coho recovery effort. WRC worked to enhance this effort by conserving lands within the Alsea River estuary.
Photography | Josh Kling
Coastal coho salmon are listed as Threatened on the Endangered Species Act from the Columbia River south to California. On the California coast, they are Endangered. The Alsea River provides some of the best coho habitat on the entire Oregon coast.
Coastal coho salmon are listed as Threatened on the Endangered Species Act from the Columbia River south to California. On the California coast, they are Endangered. The Alsea River provides some of the best coho habitat on the entire Oregon coast.
Photography | Barrie Kovish
Western Rivers Conservancy began its work on the Alsea River in 2002 when it protected a 1,402-acre property spanning both sides of lower Drift Creek and a critical portion of the Alsea.
Western Rivers Conservancy began its work on the Alsea River in 2002 when it protected a 1,402-acre property spanning both sides of lower Drift Creek and a critical portion of the Alsea.
Photography | Bob Keller
Drift Creek Alsea river
Drift Creek, a tributary to Oregon's Alsea River.
Photography | Russ Schnitzer
A herd of Roosevelt elk grazes near the Alsea River.
A herd of Roosevelt elk grazes near the Alsea River.
Photography | Peter Marbach
In addition to conserving salmon and steelhead habitat, WRC's acquisitions on Drift Creek and the Alsea River improved access for boaters.
In addition to conserving salmon and steelhead habitat, WRC's acquisitions on Drift Creek and the Alsea River improved access for boaters.
Photography | Jenny DuVander
Drift Creak Alsea river
Sunrise on Oregon's Alsea River.
Photography | Russ Schnitzer
WRC staff members explore the Alsea River estuary by kayak. By following tides, paddlers can easily explore the Alsea and Drift Creek by boat.
WRC staff members explore the Alsea River estuary by kayak. By following tides, paddlers can easily explore the Alsea and Drift Creek by boat.
Photography | Jenny DuVander

Western Rivers Conservancy protected the lower portions of Drift Creek and the Alsea River estuary, which together offer some of the best habitat remaining in Oregon for threatened coastal coho salmon.

The project area begins at a magnificent waterfall and then follows Drift Creek along its last five miles before it flows into Alsea Bay near Waldport, Oregon. Drift Creek slows into a meandering pattern that feeds rich wetlands, with sloughs and backwaters that are ideal rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon. In 2002, WRC purchased 1,400 acres along this stretch of Drift Creek, which set the stage for a large coho recovery effort on the land, now part of the Siuslaw National Forest. The property also contains the North Channel of the Alsea River, a backwater area with eelgrass beds and saltwater marsh that serves as a nursery for young fish and spawning grounds for marine species. About half the area is forested, primarily with Douglas fir on the upland slopes and red alder in the riparian zone. The remainder is wetland and pasture.

One key to recovery is the Alsea Bay estuary, which still has unusually large areas of salt marsh in excellent condition. In November 2010, WRC made a second purchase, a 287-acre parcel that fronts some of the last unprotected salt marsh in the bay. We conveyed the property to Siuslaw National Forest in late 2012, and it has become a vital part of the restoration effort.

The Alsea River was once the most productive coho salmon stream in Oregon, and this project offers the most promising opportunity for habitat restoration in the Alsea Bay estuary and dramatic improvement of coho salmon habitat. Drift Creek also supports a healthy run of fall chinook as well as spring chinook, winter steelhead, cutthroat trout and other species.

Additionally, project area is downstream from the Drift Creek Wilderness Area, which is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts including anglers, boaters and hikers. Public acquisition of the lower stream brings improved access to Drift Creek and better opportunities for boating.

For up to date access information please visit the Siuslaw National Forest website.

Critical support for our work on the Drift Creek - Alsea River was provided by the Meyer Memorial Trust, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wiancko Charitable Foundation, James H. Stanard Foundation, Lisa Hansen, Douglas Rathkamp and Amy Wheat.

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