Owners of Oregon’s more than 1,000 aging tide gates will have access to new engineering tools that will help them replace their tide gates, with funding announced this week to help expedite tide gate replacement designs. The announcement came at the May 22 meeting of the Tide Gate Partnership, a workgroup convened by the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) County Solutions on behalf of Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB).

Now made up of over 50 organizations and individuals, the Tide Gate Partnership was initiated by the Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, and others with the goal to develop a voluntary, collaboration-based action plan for tide gate repair and replacement that is cost-effective, efficient to implement, and is supported by tide gate owners, regulatory agencies, and organizations providing technical assistance and funding.

Coquille Watershed Association Director, Melaney Dunne serves as the liaison for watershed councils. At the partnership meeting, Dunne outlined a new approach to streamline design of tide gates that comply with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries fish passage and habitat requirements. The Coquille Watershed Association will receive funding from an OWEB grant to develop an engineering model for fish passage to help streamline the first steps of a tide gate engineering design.

Dunne says initial conversations to launch the streamlined model have taken place. “We’re really looking forward to the outcome of this model, which will be a user-friendly and open source tool that landowners can use,” she said. “This model will reduce the costs associated with the design process and help to streamline tide gate replacement.”

“Tide gates along Oregon’s coast and the Columbia River protect key agricultural lands, communities, and other infrastructure. At the same time, these tide gates often exist in areas that are important habitat for native fish species. That makes replacing tide gates in a fish-friendly manner a huge and important lift,” said OWEB Executive Director, Meta Loftsgaarden. “We are excited to see positive momentum on this project and strong collaborative efforts on each phase of the overall process.”

Simultaneously, in coordination with the partnership, AOC County Solutions is driving legislative efforts on funding for technical assistance to navigate the cumbersome permitting process.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate