A lot of Salmon River Estuary work has been going on for years by the U.S. Forest Service, the Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council and other agencies to repair damage to the river’s outlet to the ocean caused by misguided urban-type development and extensive river and slough diking. Much of that damage has been repaired with further remediation still on the planning books.
Coming up this year the Forest Service will construct a formal Salmon River Estuary Visitor’s Center on Fraiser Road about a quarter mile in from Highway 101. Signs on 101 are expected to direct visitors to the Fraiser Road turn off and up toward the center.
Once they arrive at the center they will find interpretive graphics and photos describing the history of the wetlands and the years of trying to maintain an amusement park and r/v center on the site. Eventually the development went belly up, leaving not only a major debris clean up and a channelized Salmon River, but also decades of heavy diking that destroyed many sloughs necessary for rearing young fish. Those are in the process of being rehabilitated as well.
The visitors center will eventually be connected to a system of trails that meander through the area. The emphasis, say planners, is to designate official hiking trails to and from the estuary visitors center which will also link to trails already established in Lincoln City. Eventually they anticipate trails running from Roads End to the visitors center, and back up to The Knoll, the showcase piece of the city’s recent acquisition of The Villages development at the north end of town.
As for the remainder of the Salmon River Estuary restoration, the Forest Service and the Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council will be pressing ahead with plans to reconnect Fraiser Creek directly to the estuary. Some time after that they’ll try to do the same thing for the Salmon River.