200214_oct_yaqnat Snowy Plover by Ram Papish.jpg

Snowy Plover

The transformation of the Salmon River Estuary will be the subject of a Thursday, Feb. 20, presentation hosted by the Yaquina Birders and Naturalists in Newport.

Kami Ellingson, watershed program manager for the US Forest Service, will give an overview of efforts to restore the estuary, which was heavily impacted by residential and commercial development in the mid 20th Century, most notably by the Pixieland amusement park. For more than 40 years the Siuslaw National Forest, together with a diverse range of partners, has been acquiring tidal marsh in the estuary in order to bring back the tides. The estuary was restored incrementally from 1978 through 2017. Nearly the entire estuary is now restored to a natural, historic tidal regime, resulting in significant fisheries response and native biodiversity.

Ellingson is a hydrologist with 20 years of field experience, ranging from landslide studies following the 1996 storm event in Western Oregon to road, stream and estuary restoration. She has led the restoration of the Salmon River estuary since 2007 and has been recognized nationally and internationally for the success of the physical restoration and the collaborative partnerships. Ellingson received both her BS degree in Natural Resources Management and her Master’s in Forest Engineering and Hydrology from Oregon State University.

The presentation, which is free and open to all, will start at 7 pm at OSU Extension Lincoln County, 1211 SE Bay Blvd.

And on Saturday, Feb. 22, the Yaquina Birders and Naturalists will head to South Beach State Park for a guided bird walk led by Steve and Rachel Holzman, starting at 8:30 am at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

The two-hour outing will see walkers keep their eyes peeled in search of wintering snowy plovers and other shorebirds as well as a variety of gulls, cormorants, loons, waterfowl and songbirds like yellow-rumped warbler. On the way back, birders will stroll through the woods on the jetty trail while listening for chickadees, bushtit and wintering sparrows.

If the weather is wet and windy enough to make a beach walk miserable, the trip will proceed to the jetty via car and search for water birds. If time permits, there will be a quick search for the lingering Nashville warbler at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

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