If we were to paddle out, and I told you that on either side of us there was marsh, one pristine and one restored, do you think you could tell the difference? Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge is where 12 of our 16 paddle trips hosted by USFWS (and Me!) will take place. With two down I have already seen why Siletz Bay is part of the Oregon Coast Wildlife Refuge Complex. This refuge is part of a 6 refuge complex that includes 3 marine and 3 estuarine refuges. Siletz Bay includes important tidal marsh areas that are used by many migratory waterfowl and songbirds. Also home to species such as Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers and other raptors, this area is a haven right off of one of the busiest pacific coastal highways. The refuge was established in 1991 and restoration on the land began in the mid-1990’s.
Parts of the refuge land were once used for cattle grazing. These pasture lands that were diked in the past were opened during restoration to tidal waters, where the tide itself restores much of the vegetation on the lands by bringing seeds from neighboring pristine marshes and establishing them there. This allows for hands-free management by the USFWS. On one side you have pristine marsh, and on the other is restored pasture. Today, when you paddle on Millport slough, a part of the refuge, you can experience both sides of the story, conservation and restoration. So, do you think you’ll be able to tell the difference when we are on Millport slough?