In 2010, the Port of Coos Bay completed the Transpacific Parkway Realignment Project for the Coos Bay rail line. One of the requirements for the project was to create a minimum of 1.64 acres of wetlands and preservation of 0.91 acres of vegetated buffer to mitigate for 0.98 acres of wetland impact from the project. The Port decided to create this new wetland site on our property in East Bay and thus, started the Eastside Mitigation project in 2012. The general requirements of the site were:
1. Offset environmental impacts from the Transpacific Parkway Project
2. Wetland will have enough soil saturation for two weeks during the growing season
3. Native plants found in wetlands of the bay area will be the dominant plant species
4. Removal of some encroaching upland plant species
5. Have at least three or more wetland species present
6. Invasive weed species in mitigation area will be less than 20% throughout the five-year monitoring period
7. Survival rate for planted trees and shrubs will be at least 80% at the end of five-year monitoring period.
The Port has successfully submitted a 5-year report to USACE and the Department of State Lands. The Port has met all the criteria of the mitigation site with the exception of willow trees and buffer plants. As a result, USACE has allowed a two-year extension for the Port to fulfill these requirements. The only caveat is that we cannot water the site, only monitor it. To ensure the success of this last criteria, Port staff along with our community partners have planted an additional 70 live buffer plants. Port staff will also monitor the willow trees next July and August to make sure they have taken root. Currently, both the buffer plants and willow trees are double the required population. If all goes well, the project should wrap up in two years!
This project would not have been possible without the hard work and innovative ideas of Port staff throughout the past five years. In addition, it has been a wonderful way to partner with our community as we worked with both the Shutter Creek Correctional crew and with the Coos Bay Watershed Association (http://bit.ly/2ozYHuL) to fulfill mitigation requirements. If you go out to the site, you will see a wetland ecosystem coming together. The Eastside Mitigation project is just one example of how there can be a successful coexistence of both industrial development and environmental sustainability.