Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bandon Marsh Restoration and the Legend of Face Rock

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge to help Brook continue the post restoration monitoring work.  For the most part, the restoration work has been finished.  At least the earth moving part.  Tide gates have been removed and the dike is gone.  Fahys and Redd Creeks have been restored to their original channels.  Over 5 miles of new tidal channels have been dug.  Off the refuge, two fish barriers have been removed on Fahys Creek to allow salmon and trout full access to potential spawning and rearing habitat and into Fahys Lake.  Revegetation is still taking place in a few locations on the refuge.  More details on this marsh restoration project, the largest in Oregon, can be found at the following links.

Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
Bandon Marsh NWR Restoration - Video
Restoring Tidal Marshes on Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuges - The Dish on Fish Blog

Fyke nets set in Redd Creek

We put out fyke nets, seined, and electrofished throughout the refuge to see what fish were using new and old sites.  We caught lots of really nice cutthroat trout, coho, starry flounder, as well as the usual three-spined stickleback and sculpin.  I was impressed when we caught coho yearlings and cutthroat trout in some of the very new channels, far from the creek.  I can't even begin to imagine the numbers and varieties of fish that may use these tidal channels in future years, but we'll be checking.

Brook sampling fish
A typical coastal cutthroat trout caught on the refuge

After one of our long hard days of carrying nets, buckets, and sampling gear through fields and mud, not to mention trying to beat the high tides, we had a chance to take a short ride to an ocean lookout.  There was a rock in the ocean, called Face Rock.  I saw the likeness to a woman's face right away. 

Face Rock
There are many variations of the legend of Face Rock but here is a short version from the Bandon's Visitor Guide.

"Legend from the Nah-So-Mah Tribe has it that the beautiful Indian princess Ewanua was visiting tribes on the coast with her father, Chief Siskiyou, and in celebration of their visit, a great potlatch took place.
The local tribes were in great fear of Seatka, the evil spirit of the ocean, but Ewanua and those in her tribe, who lived in the mountains, were not afraid.
After the feast, while others lay sleeping, Ewanua carried her dog, Komax, and her cat and kittens in a basket and wandered down to the ocean.
She danced and played with delight, and soon placed her pets in their basket on the beach and swam into the ocean, far from shore. Unaware of any danger, she was suddenly grabbed by a fearsome creature that came out of the water.
Komax, knowing his mistress was in danger, swam out to her with the basket in his mouth and bit Seatka. Howling with rage, the monster kicked off the dog and threw the cat and kittens far out to sea. He tried to get the princess to look at him, but she refused, knowing his power was in his eyes.
Now, the beautiful Ewanua lies in the ocean, looking skyward, refusing to look at Seatka, who sits nearby. Her beloved Komax and her cat and kittens lie to the west, waiting in vain for their mistress to arise."

Submitted by Donna Allard


  1. The fish stuff is exciting but I like the Face Rock legend too.

  2. I love that Brook works with trout, brook... trout..., brook trout! Give me a B.. go Brook! Go trout! Go Brook Trout!