Why Floodplains Matter

November 19, 2012 Seaside Signal photo by Jeremy C. Ruark

We just had quite a doozy of a storm blow through the north coast yesterday!  Heavy rains met high winds to wreak havoc all up and down the coast.  Astoria clocked winds of 98 mph! Whew.  As reported in the Seaside Signal, once again just outside NCLC’s back door, Highway 101 was closed to all but the highest profile vehicles due to flooding on the road near Beerman Creek.

Those of you on our mailing list will remember the story in our spring newsletter about an exciting project NCLC was able to develop working with county and city officials and two divisions of the Oregon Department of Transportation. Along with extensive floodplain restoration plans that include planting thousands of native plants, the project will remove  a levee along the Necanicum River on NCLC’s Circle Creek Habitat Reserve just south of Seaside.

NCLC Executive Director Katie Voelke was a recent guest on KMUN Coast Community Radio’s program The Human Beat, where she and host Roger Rocka talked extensively about the levee removal project and what the result will mean for north coast residents and visitors. (You can listen to a podcast of the show by following this link to KMUN’s downloads page and clicking on The Human Beat for 11/12/2012).

Since it was built in the 1960s, the levee has been constraining the river to prevent it spilling over into the pasture, which is the river’s historic floodplain.  Unfortunatly, the result has been that during high water events the river heads for the lowest point where it can escape its banks and spills out all over Highway 101 instead.

Sadly for all flood-weary north coasters, the permit approval process for a complicated project like this levee removal moved slower than a bananna slug crossing the forest floor, and by the time all the right permits were finally in place the fall rains had begun and the in-water work period for 2012 (the time when you are allowed to work in and along creeks and rivers creating a big mess) had passed.

However, we can all take heart that this is hopefully the last winter we will be dealing with this kind of flooding at this spot on 101.  All of us at NCLC are looking forward to the first big storm of winter 2013, when we can stand back and watch the river re-connect with its floodplain and begin the process of restoring the wetlands to a state of ecological balance.

NCLC’s office and the Circle Creek barns as seen across the inundated pasture

In the meantime, it sounds like more rain and wind are on their way to the north coast later this week.  Stay safe out there everyone!

In this week of Thankgiving, we here at NCLC are all feeling tremendously thankful for our wonderful community of supporters- projects like the Circle Creek floodplain restoration are only possible because of YOU.

Thank You!

 

 

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