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Yarr WRP

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Yarr WRP

Wetland Restoration In The Tarboo Valley

This photo is of the Tarboo Wetland Restoration

Tarboo Wetland Restoration

Location icon
Tarboo, Jefferson County

Project Summary icon
The Tarboo Valley is a lot different than it was just a few short years ago. The Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI), through its persistence and innovative approach, has come a long way in restoring forested wetlands that benefit a variety of resource concerns. The project represents a cooperative effort among partners and programs to reclaim 120 acres that were predominately reed canary grass wetlands. Today the wetland hydrology, floodplain connectivity and riparian and wetland vegetation has been restored. The site now functions much as it did prior to the 1880s.

Conservation Partners icon
USFWS, NRCS, FSA, Jefferson County Conservation District, Northwest Watershed Institute, Jefferson Land Trust.

Resource Challenges icon
Prior to 1965, the Yarr family operated a dairy in the Tarboo Valley, a few miles north of Dabob Bay. The Tarboo Valley like many of the Puget Sound bottom land forests, have long been cleared. Prior to the 1880s, historical data indicates that most of these areas were forested with Sitka spruce and cedar wetlands. During the 1930s, the main stem of Tarboo Creek was straightened and wetland vegetation was removed for road construction and agriculture. Drainage ditches were constructed and drain tiles installed. In some places the original stream elevation dropped and the floodplain connection was reduced. In 2005, the NWI purchased the 200 acre Yarr farm with funding from a National Coastal grant administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). NWI' vision was to restore wetland values on 120 acres for the benefit of aquatic and terrestrial species and improving the soil and water resource. Peter Bahls a fish biologist and Director of NWI is the manager of the project. “This is a rare opportunity to restore not just the stream, but the wetlands and floodplains around it as well. These can be very productive habitats for young Coho salmon, which live in the stream for a full year before migrating out to sea.

Conservation Program Used icon
The restoration is being supported by funding made available through the NRCS' WRP, USFWS' aquatic Land Enhancement Account, USDA FSA' Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program administered locally by the Jefferson County Conservation District and donations from many individuals and businesses. The stream was partially realigned to approximate historic meandering and large woody debris and spawning gravel was placed to enhance restoration. Ditches were partially or completely filled or re-aligned and bridges were reconstructed and cross drains installed to increase flow capacity and improve flooding patterns. Several riparian and wetland plant communities were established including riparian forest, wetland forested wetlands and shrub/scrub wetlands. Students from the Swan School in Port Townsend planted trees and shrubs along Tarboo Creek.

Innovations and Highlights icon
Specialized equipment such as rubber tracked dump trucks were used to reduce compaction on wet soils. Additionally, NWI required the contractor to use vegetable based hydraulic oils to reduce potential damage to the soil and water resource. One thing anyone will be sure to comment on as they drive by the project site is the “forest” of dead trees that resulted from the first phase of restoration. Aside from the immediate use by wintering Bald Eagle as perches, the trees were installed to “jump start” the snag component of the forested wetland that will eventually inhabit the site. By the time the wetland planting matures (~ 80 years), the snags will have decomposed and will provide critical habitat within the forest community.

Results and Accomplishments icon
It did not take long for the restoration efforts to take effect. Immediately following the first phase of construction in 2007, the project area sustained an early fall rain which caused Tarboo Creek to swell outside its banks. The hydrology restoration activities performed as intended, allowing flood flows to slowly fill the valley, providing shallow slow moving wetland habitat for juvenile salmon, waterfowl and Bald Eagles. Stream bank erosion during floodwater retreat was reduced from pre-construction conditions in the previously straighten channel. NWI' vision of restoring the Tarboo watershed is not limited to Yarr property. Other such activities have occurred upstream and NWI is working with landowners and organizations to see that the lower watershed is restored also.

Contact icon
Jim Poffel, NRCS, Port Angeles (360) 457-5091

NRCS, Fall 2009