Salmon thrive after removal of legacy amusement park
Pixieland opened in 1969 with the great hopes of being the next Disneyland. Creation of the amusement park required building a dike to surround the property to protect it from flooding by the Salmon River, Otis Oregon. Just four years later, Pixieland closed leaving behind buildings, parking lots, ride infrastructure, dikes and tidegates, disconnecting the tidal flow of salt water into the marsh impacting critical habitat for Salmon River salmon.
Thirty-eight years later, a relatively short disruption in geological and ecological time, The US Forest Service and Salmon Drift Watershed Council in partnership with other federal, state agencies and non-profit partners removed the tide gates, dikes and remaining infrastructure and graded the site back to the historic marsh elevations. In conjunction with the dike removal, scientists began studying changes in the marsh vegetation. With the removal of the dikes, the natural channel systems in the Salmon River marshes have been generally restored, re-establishing feeder tributaries and backwater channels to the main Salmon River channel.
The tidal wetland restoration project of the historic Pixieland is well on the path toward a full recovery of a native wetland habitat. Overtime scientists have observed improved and increased habitat for insect prey, small crustaceans and other forage that juvenile salmon like to eat, plumping them up for their entry into the ocean. The improved channel systems also create more and varied shelter for the young salmon to rest. With the results of Pixieland and several other restoration projects, The Salmon River estuary is now characterized as one of the least developed and most restored estuaries in Oregon.
Project partners for the restoration work in the Salmon River Estuary include Oregon Department of State Lands, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Community Services Consortium, Oregon Department of Transportation and Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council.
Learn more about the Pixieland Restoration Project and the Salmon River estuary during our February 26-28th Westwind weekend. You will get to see this incredible restoration effort first hand and learn more about the positive impacts it has on salmon and overall health of the Salmon River Estuary!