Merkley, Wyden Announce $750,000 in Federal Funds for Tillamook County Fish Passage Projects

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced a total of $750,000 in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding headed to three fish passage projects in Tillamook County. All three projects will contribute to the Salmon SuperHwy strategic effort to restore 95 percent historic habitat connectivity for five species of Endangered Species Act-listed salmonids and Pacific lamprey. These projects are also intended to reduce flooding and improve public safety in the flood-prone coastal community.

“Tillamook County’s Salmon SuperHwy project is an excellent example how fish and wildlife recovery directly benefit local communities,” said Senator Merkley, Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee that provided funding for this program.
“The health of Tillamook’s community goes hand-in-hand with the health of the port, fish habitats, and infrastructure conditions. The three projects funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support climate-resilient infrastructure and reconnect fish habitats. I’m pleased to have helped secure this funding, and I will continue to fight for more federal investment to support habitat restoration and fish passage projects.”

“The Salmon SuperHwy is a proven method for tackling depleted salmon and steelhead stocks while investing in rural economies,” said Senator Wyden. “It’s abundantly clear that Oregonians believe strongly in results-driven solutions to addressing dwindling salmon populations, and investing in the Salmon SuperHwy is a clear win for the health of both fish habitats and coastal communities.”

The three projects funded in Tillamook County can be found below:

Myrtle Creek — $500,000:
This project will focus on removing an undersized fish passage barrier culvert on Myrtle Creek to reopen 1.0 mile of high priority habitat spawning and rearing habitat. This project is just above the recently restored 70-acre portion of Kilchis Estuary and will increase rearing and smoltification habitat.  

Illingsworth Creek — $150,000:
This project will replace an undersized culvert along Illingsworth Creek in important freshwater habitat just above the head of tide and the newly restored tidally influenced Miami Wetland.
Addtionally, this project will provide 1.6 miles of habitat access for Oregon Coast chum, spring and fall Chinook salmon, ESA listed coho salmon, summer and winter steelhead, sea-run and resident cutthroat trout, and Pacific lamprey.

Samson Creek — $100,000:
The project will provide 1.8 miles of habitat access for Pacific lamprey, spring and fall Chinook salmon, ESA listed coho salmon and chum salmon, summer and winter steelhead, and sea-run cutthroat trout. The existing perched culvert will be replaced with a 45-foot bridge. 

“Tillamook County is extremely grateful to the Department of the Interior selecting these three projects in Tillamook County, Oregon. As a member of the Salmon SuperHwy, we fully support finding innovative solutions to removing fish barriers while improving the transportation infrastructure. Completing these projects removes not only a fish passage barriers, but they also replace failing culverts on roads that provide the only access to critical areas subsequently improving emergency vehicle response time,” said Chris Laity, Tillamook County Public Works Director.