The Need for Conservation
The fish and wildlife resources within the lower Coquille River estuary are of local, national, and international importance. Although greatly diminished, the Coquille River system supports economically and culturally important runs of threatened coho salmon, chinook salmon, chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, and Pacific lamprey. This estuary is also an important stopover area for fall and spring migrant shorebirds and waterfowl.
However, this estuary has suffered the highest percentage loss of tidal marsh habitat in Oregon. Approximately 95% of its tidal marsh habitat and 93% of its forested/shrub wetlands have been lost, resulting in impacts to this hydrologic system, its habitats, and the estuarine-dependent fish and wildlife populations that use this area.
Exploring Opportunities to Conserve and Protect Wildlife and Habitats
Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge or NWR), established in 1983, conserves 889 acres of land in fee title ownership within an approved refuge boundary of 1,000 acres, representing a valuable contribution to the protection of fish and wildlife in the Coquille River estuary. In September 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (Service or USFWS) received approval to initiate a Land Protection Planning (LPP) study to investigate the possibility of expanding the approved refuge boundary of Bandon Marsh Refuge to meet the needs of fish, wildlife, and public recreational use. Refuge boundary expansion would contribute to achieving the Service's mission and the Refuge's purposes by:
- Enabling the restoration of tidal marsh, forested wetlands, and riparian
- Providing high quality habitat for shorebirds, waterfowl, salmonids, and
other fish and wildlife.
- Allowing for expanded wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on
In early November 2011, the public was invited to participate in the planning process. Preliminary alternatives detailing how the refuge would be managed during the next 15 years were developed as part of the Refuge's Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) process. However, in early February 2012, the Service made the
decision to separate the CCP from the boundary expansion study. This schedule change allows the CCP to continue on pace and meet the Congressionally mandated due date while allowing more time for thorough analysis and study of the LPP range of alternatives. As part of our LPP process, which will include additional
opportunities for public involvement in fall 2012, we will continue to discuss important issues and opportunities with the area's landowners and the greater community. Draft alternatives, which will include a No Action alternative, are tentatively scheduled to be presented in fall 2012. For updates on this planning process, please join our mailing list and bookmark this site.
Land Protection Planning Quick Facts
Please click on a Quick Fact for a more detailed explanation.
- To facilitate the completion of our CCP and better address concerns related to our preliminary land protection alternatives, we are conducting the LPP process separate from our CCP.
- The LPP study area is approximately 4,500 acres. However, priority habitats are limited to about 2,180 acres of bottomlands and adjacent forested habitats within the lower Coquille estuary below river mile
- No lands outside of the study area are being considered for inclusion within the proposed expanded boundary.
- The USFWS is gathering information on potential economic and ecological impacts to be evaluated in the LPP. The results of this analysis will be made public.
- Landowners in the study area and in the LPP retain all private property rights, and will not be subject to additional regulations or any searches for threatened or endangered species.
- It is the USFWS's long standing policy to only acquire land from willing sellers. Eminent domain (condemnation) is very rarely used by the USFWS, and we would need a compelling reason - such as a request from the landowner to clear title - to use it to purchase land for the refuge.
- If the LPP is approved and the Refuge boundary is expanded, landowners within the boundary wishing to sell their land to the USFWS may do so at a price based upon an appraisal if funding is available. Landowners within an approved refuge boundary are under no obligation to sell their land to the
- In order for the USFWS to add lands to the National Wildlife Refuge System, the land must be within an approved refuge boundary.
- Under the Refuge Revenue Sharing Act, the USFWS makes annual payments to the county to offset lost property taxes.
- Funds used to purchase land do not come from federal, state, or local income taxes.
- USFWS considers hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education, and interpretation to be appropriate uses on a Refuge, and will permit these activities where they do not interfere with or detract from the Refuge System's mission or a Refuge's purpose, or cause
safety concerns on neighboring lands.
- Neighboring lands will be protected from changes in flooding patterns that result from habitat restoration activities on Refuge land.
- Public comments and questions are welcome throughout the process.