Alsea Bay is one of the most pristine estuaries on the Oregon Coast. The Alsea River watershed drains approximately 475 square miles, and is home to healthy fall Chinook salmon, elk and river otter. It also contains a number of haul-outs for resting, basking, birthing and nursing harbor seals.
The Alsea Bay IBA includes all tidelands and submerged lands of the Alsea River up to Mean High Water as well as some adjacent upland areas which provide valuable avian habitat.
This IBA includes the confluence with Drift Creek and approximately 2 miles of Drift Creek where USDA FS has coordinated tidal marsh restoration. It also includes both the tidelands on the bay and ocean side of Alsea Bay Spit, as well as Eckman Lake, Lint Slough (where dike removal and hydrological restoration has occurred consistent with the Alsea Bay Action Plan), the first mile of Starr Creek, recently acquired and restored by The Wetlands Conservancy, and the Bayview Oxbow (West Bayview Oxbow has been acquired by TWC for tidal marsh restoration and natural hydrology reconnection). Recent TWC acquisitions will conserve 75 percent of the Bayview Oxbow wetlands, as well as tidal marshlands and forested uplands adjacent to Starr Creek and near the Drift Creek Wilderness area.
The numbers of birds observed in season that surpass threshold requirements include (over): 50 Caspian Terns, 100 endangered Brown Pelicans, 1,000 shorebirds, and 5,000 waterfowl. Specific records are as follows:
Brown Pelicans: 137 on 10/11/1992 by Range Bayer, 150 on 10/19/1992 by Jean Weakland, 149 on 9/14/1997 by Jean Weakland, 189 on 9/15/1997 by Jean Weakland, 100 on 10/15/2000 by Kathy Merrifield.
Waterfowl: 6,819 (not including coots) on 12/2/1986 by USFWS.
Caspian Tern: 52 on 8/1/1994 by Kathy Merrifield, 60 on 8/6/1995 by Kathy Merrifield, 70 on 7/26/1998 by Kathy Merrifield.
Shorebirds: During 3 counts during 1988-1991, the peak count at Alsea Bay was 1,592 shorebirds in fall (Page et al. 1992: Appendix 1a). In addition, 1400 on 4/27/1997 by Kathy Merrifield, 1100 on 9/16/2001 by Kathy Merrifield.
The highest threats are considered to be the abandonment of and reduction in land management conservation plans, the consequential disturbance to birds, and a filling in of wetlands.
The proposed IBA includes submerged areas (below Mean Low Water) owned by the State of Oregon, tidelands (between Mean Low Water and Mean High Water and which include tidelands on the bay and ocean side of Alsea Bay Apit) that are owned by the Port of Alsea, Linclon County, State of Oregon, and private landowners; and uplands (which are above Mean High Water) that include the confluence with Drift Creek and 2 miles of Drift Creek (the US Forest Service) has coordinated tidal marsh restoration, Eckman Lake (owned by_____), the first mile of Starr Creek (owned by TWC), West Bayview Oxbow (acquired by TWC for tidal marsh restoration and natural hydrology reconnection), East Bayview Oxbow (private ownership), Lint Slough (where dike removal and hydrological restoration has occurred consistent with the Alsea Bay Action Plan, and is owned by ODFW), and other unnamed marsh areas (owned by private and other unknown entities) included within the IBA boundaries.
Recent Wetlands Conservancy acquisitions (Oxbow West and Starr Creek), and US Forest Service restoration work in forested riparian areas of Drift Creek are increasing the upland avian value here and the boundaries are under consideration to capture these habitat improvements.
This is a coastal estuary consisting predominantly of open water, mud and sandflats during low tide, and some tidal salt marshes on edges and islands.
Known major land uses include fisheries, tourism/recreation, water management, agriculture, forestry, grazing/pastureland, and urban/industrial. Approximately 1/2 of the basin is managed by the BLM/U.S. Forest Service/Siuslaw National Forest, much of which is designated Late-Successional Reserve under the Northwest Forest Plan.