The Salmon SuperHwy (SSH) is a Trout Unlimited (TU)-led collaborative partnership working to restore access to 180 miles of blocked habitat throughout six major salmon and steelhead rivers on Oregon’s North Coast. The SSH reconnects fish habitat by replacing in-stream barriers. 

Funding from the Roundhouse Foundation in 2021 provided staff support for TU to engage with key private and agricultural landowners and bring resources to implement conservation practices that meet landowner needs while advancing the goals of the SSH partnership.

The SSH is a collaboration of local, state, and federal partners working together to address fish passage barriers and reconnect habitat at a landscape scale across the Tillamook-Nestucca Subbasin in Oregon. Through a subbasin-wide barrier assessment, the partnership identified more than 260 fish passage barriers throughout the Tillamook-Nestucca Subbasin and determined that fixing them all would cost approximately $140 million and take decades to achieve. By using an innovative, strategic optimization model, the SSH identified 93 projects that provide the highest conservation return on investment and restore access for six species of anadromous fish to 95% of their historic habitat while building climate-resilient infrastructure. Since 2014, the partnership has completed 43 projects, reconnecting 115 miles of habitat. The work of the SSH partnership benefits native migratory fish by restoring access to spawning and rearing habitat, while at the same time reducing chronic flooding, preventing erosion and road washouts, and supporting the local, rural economy of Tillamook County, Oregon.

Though significant progress has been made on priority barrier removal projects, the SSH recognizes the importance of working with private landowners to improve connectivity and riparian condition on agricultural land. Strategic planning in 2019 and 2020 identified a critical need for additional capacity in the partnership for landowner coordination and project management. 

“Working lands, healthy waterways, and salmon are integral to the economic and ecological resilience of Tillamook County. Support from the Roundhouse Foundation will leverage funding and collaborative efforts by Salmon SuperHwy partners to expand our impact that benefits our rural community, and the salmon, steelhead, and other native fish that depend on healthy, connected watersheds,” says Sarah Zwissler, Salmon SuperHwy Coordinator, Trout Unlimited.

Through this grant and others, TU will engage with agricultural landowners to address fish passage barriers in the lower watershed and they will be able to provide this critical relationship element with private and agricultural landowners in addition to bringing resources to the table.  All of those things combined will implement conservation practices that meet landowner needs and still advance the goals of the SSH partnership. 

Private grant funding can provide significant leverage. Salmon SuperHwy projects implemented in the past two years represent a $5.2 million investment in design and implementation from multiple funders.

Photos courtesy of Trout Unlimited Salmon Superhwy

Published On: January 14th, 2022 / Categories: Featured Grant Stories, Grant News /