IN EVERY CORNER of the state, Oregon Lottery proceeds support what matters to Oregonians. In 1999, voters directed the Lottery to provide funding to help restore and preserve Oregon’s natural settings and habitats. Administered by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, these funds help support more than 7,000 watershed restoration projects across the state, including one—the Fivemile-Bell Restoration Project—that is just ten miles southeast of Florence. The project aims to restore and preserve one of Oregon’s most productive Coho salmon habitats.
Many of the state’s salmon streams now produce only 3–5 percent of their historic numbers, but Fivemile and Bell Creeks are still producing about 40 percent of Coho that they produced historically. However, there is ample opportunity to leverage even greater gains, as the area was adversely impacted by western settlement for more than a century.
Over the past three years, the restoration team has improved three miles of stream and established many native plant communities. Katie Duzik of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board commented, “One of the neat things about this project is that you can start downstream and see what the site looks like after four years of growth. Traveling upstream, each mile segment of stream is a little newer until you reach the current phase—it’s like watching time lapse photography.”
Besides the Coho salmon, many other species are benefiting from this work, and the area grows in natural beauty every year. You can watch videos about the various enhancement projects around the state at oregonlottery.org/watersheds.