GRANTS PASS — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will pay to spray for mosquitoes on a newly restored salt marsh on the southern Oregon Coast, where residents and visitors have been complaining of the biting insects all summer.
"The scientific data showing the unprecedented number of mosquitoes and the County's identification of this as a legitimate health threat provided the Service with the ability to approve funding for the treatment of mosquitoes on refuge lands," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Megan Nagel said Friday in a statement.
The Fish and Wildlife Service had come under harsh criticism for spending $10 million on the Ni-les'tun Tidal Marsh Restoration to improve salmon and shorebird habitat, but not being able to come up with several thousand dollars for controlling the mosquitoes.
The agency acknowledged it had not foreseen mosquitoes would be problem when it considered the environmental effects of restoring tidal surges to 400 acres along the Coquille River north of Bandon that have served as a cow pasture for the past century. A 76-page environmental assessment of the project does not mention mosquitoes at all.
Coos County Commissioner John Sweet said the spraying can't start until mid-September, when tidal conditions will be favorable, and will involve an area larger than the refuge.
The cost likely will be less than $30,000, though no contracts have been let.