Restoration underway, more changes to come at Jackson-Frazier Wetland
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Efforts to restore some of the rarest habitat in Benton County is underway at Jackson-Frazier Wetland.
The wetland, located just Northeast of Corvallis, is a prized Benton County natural area for wildlife and rare/endangered plants. The wetland is also vital for filtering the water from Jackson-Frazier watershed that flows north of Corvallis, while also slowing the runoff to provide flood control to downstream neighborhoods.
Plans to restore the open wetland prairie came together in 2017 under the guidance of the Benton County Natural Areas and Parks Department with support from Federal, State, and Local partners. The restoration project goals include enhancing natural wetland function by removing a berm, along with ruts and furrows gouged into the wetland (by the previous landowner) during the 1980s, interrupting the natural flow of water.
The work is made possible through an inter-governmental collaboration.
“This project is only possible because of all the partnerships,” said Adam Stebbins, Benton County Natural Resources Coordinator.
Last year, Stebbins secured an Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board- Restoration Grant with support from partners and a private wetland restoration consultant, and began implementing restoration plan work.
During Summer/Fall 2018, local U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife staff helped the county get the upper hand on invasive plant species particularly woody Wild Rose and Reed Canary Grass. County staff completed mowing and select herbicide spraying of the restoration area to prep the site for restoration earthwork.
Taking out the reed canary grass has already resulted in a change in habitat, allowing open waterways to be accessible again to ducks and other migratory birds. And that brings more opportunities for visitors to view birds and other wildlife.
Next, in early spring, the county will assess the outcome of its efforts to control invasive vegetation and the encroaching woody species before proceeding with the next phase of restoration. If either the Reed Canary Grass or woody Rose species comes back, the restoration earthwork would be postponed one year to allow for another round of mowing and herbicide treatment.
“We may have to delay,” Stebbins said. “Otherwise, if you force it, there will be no lasting impact of the restoration work.”
For phase II, when the ground is the driest in late summer, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will provide scrapers, dump trucks, to re-contour the ground, taking out the berm, smoothing over the ruts and removing the excess soil to City of Corvallis property nearby.
These changes will be noticeable from the boardwalk during the peak season for visitors, as more natural wetland pools and planted native vegetation takes hold.
Benton County will maintain the restored wetland prairie, once the restoration work is completed.
Jackson-Frazier Wetland was acquired by Benton County in 1992, and enhanced and preserved through a public-private partnership. A 3,400-foot long accessible and interpretive boardwalk opened to the public in 1995, and over 10,000 visitors access the natural area during the spring-summer season each year.