Louisiana Swamp Restoration

Louisiana Swamp is a wetland site directly along the Columbia River, 4.5 miles west of Clatskanie. The landowner, a private forest products company GreenWood Resources, Inc. worked with the Estuary Partnership, Lower Columbia River Watershed Council, Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to restore 35 acres of habitat at the site, and the project broke ground in August 2013.

Failing tide gate
Failing tide gate on the site

Before the restoration began, the site was a marshy field of invasive reed canarygrass, and was too wet to farm trees like the rest of the property was used for. Westport Slough, which meanders next to the property and connects to the Columbia River, supports a variety of salmonid species, but the levee surrounding the Louisiana Swamp site prevented fish from accessing this off-channel habitat. Removing the levee along the slough allowed tidal waters to flow on-site in a twice-daily cycle and restored natural processes.

last of the levee is scraped out
Scraping out the last of the levee

Crews with contractor Kynsi Construction removed and lowered large portions of a levee to reconnect the floodplain to Westport Slough. They also carved approximately 4,000 lineal feet of off-channel habitat within the site. Over 100 pieces of large wood were placed to add complexity to the area's habitat. Crews treated the invasive reed canarygrass and other invasive plants, and revegetated the site with more than 28,000 native trees and shrubs. The actions transformed the site into a tidal wetland with a network of backwater channels, ideal for wildlife and migrating salmon to feed, rest and escape extreme conditions of the slough and Columbia River.

Newly planted live stakes
Newly planted live stakes

The project is particularly valuable because it restored tidal scrub-shrub habitat, which historically was plentiful along this reach of the river but now has decreased substantially. This type of habitat is particularly useful for many songbirds, Columbian white–tailed deer, beavers, and salmon, along with many other species of wildlife. 

high water at the site post-construction
January 2014, post construction

Additional Project Contractor:
Lower Columbia Engineering provided design and engineering services. 

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Project Partners
Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District
Greenwood Resources
Lower Columbia River Watershed Council
US Fish & Wildlife Service

Bonneville Power Administration
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board