- Erika Gilsdorf
Chicken Creek Restoration
While at Tualatin River NWR I got to hear about a restoration project started in July 2019. Read below for details!
Since the land was set aside in 1992, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge has worked to restore and maintain native habitats and provide a place where people and wildlife can come together in an immersive experience.
The Chicken Creek restoration will create a 280 acre connected wetland in the Atfalat'i Unit of TRNWR. The project will also return Chicken Creek to a curved flow and create an additional half mile of trail through a seasonal trail reconfiguration.
Currently, the Refuge manages 6 independent wetlands in the Atfalat'i Unit. Once the restoration is complete, there will be 1 continuous floodplain and 3 managed wetlands.
History of Chicken Creek
Previously, Chicken Creek was sinuous (curved), eventually connecting to the Tualatin River. It was diverted into a straight channel so that the land could be used for agriculture. The land was used for this purpose for most of the 20th century until the land was set aside for the Refuge. Presently, the Refuge extensively manages the wetlands, mimicking a natural floodplain.
The restoration will return Chicken Creek to its former path and allow for a naturally functioning wetland with freely flowing water, decreasing the amount of management required and letting nature run its natural course.
There are short and long term benefits, including new native vegetation and habitat for wildlife. In the short term, invasive species have been removed from the site and new native vegetation is being planted. Over time, the Refuge should see more native and riparian vegetation growth, leading to more species diversity.
The Refuge should also see natural benefits of wetlands, which are a habitat for beavers. Beavers will come to the site, creating dams that will allow the wetland to fill with water. More people will also be able to enjoy and experience the wetland area via the extended trail.
To learn more about the restoration project visit: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/tualatin_river/chicken-creek-restoration/ or https://www.refuge2020.info/chicken-creek-restoration
To learn more about Tualatin River NWR: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/tualatin_river/