Voluntary program allows Pacific Power customers to help restore native fish habitat

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Four waterways will receive much-needed restoration in 2016, thanks to a partnership between Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Habitat customers and The Freshwater Trust.

Through a $2.50 monthly donation to its Blue Sky Habitat Program, customers have helped raise $114,000 to protect and restore native fish habitat.

Once a year, watershed councils and nonprofits have an opportunity to apply for funds to help restore native fish habitat in Oregon.

Applications are reviewed by The Freshwater Trust, and criteria for evaluation includes a scientific approach, technical rigor and direct benefit to native anadromous fish species.

“More than $100,000 will be going to restoration because thousands of Oregonians believed it important,” said Kimberlee Myers, operations director with The Freshwater Trust. “That’s powerful. Blue Sky gives customers a tangible way to connect to freshwater and wildlife, and we’re fortunate to be a part of it.”

Projects benefiting the Lostine River, Siletz River, Bear Creek and Sandy River watersheds have been chosen for 2016. Last year, tributaries of the Willamette, the Sandy, the Rogue and the Applegate rivers benefited.

Pacific Power began the Blue Sky Habitat Program more than a decade ago. New customers joining year after year have kept it strong, and today, nearly 5,000 Oregon customers choose to add the $2.50 per month charge to their bill.

“For more than 14 years, Pacific Power has offered its customers an easy way to make a real difference for Oregon’s freshwater ecosystems and species,” said Rhonda Rasmussen, manager of the Blue Sky program. “While the program is completely voluntary, we’ve seen that many individuals and families want to make an impact on the environment and their communities.”

The total amount raised through donations is divided among several applicants. Each award is typically between $20,000 and $40,000.

The Grande Ronde Model Watershed will receive $30,000 to restore fish passage on the Lostine River. Another $30,000 will go to the Lomakatsi Restoration Project for re-establishing native trees and shrubs on Bear Creek. The Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council will receive $27,000 toward restoring wetland habitat for wildlife on Alder Island, and The Freshwater Trust will receive approximately $26,000 to improve habitat on the Salmon River and Still Creek.

“Nearly all these projects have large price tags,” said Myers. “This program offers these organizations a contribution to help carry them a little further.”

Spring and fall Chinook, summer and winter steelhead, coho, lamprey, sea run cutthroat and chum will benefit from restoration of these four watersheds.

“This is our sixth year helping Pacific Power disperse funds to organizations that make a true difference on the ground for a waterway in their community,” said Myers. “It’s always inspiring to take stock of how the simple decision of customers can make a broad, widespread difference for so many waterways in Oregon.”


2016 Awarded Projects

Lostine River/Sheep Ridge Fish Passage Improvement – Grande Ronde Model Watershed

County: Wallowa

Watershed: Wallowa – Lostine

Description: Co-managed by the Grande Ronde Model Watershed and the Nez Perce Tribe, the Sheep Ridge Fish Passage Improvement project is on northeast Oregon’s Lostine River. A concrete fish ladder installed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in the 1960s is currently acting as a significant barrier for migrating fish species. By replacing the structure, year-round fish passage will be restored to 20 miles of the Lostine.

Native fish benefited: Spring Chinook and summer steelhead

 

The 2016 Bear Creek Riparian Restoration Project – Lomakatsi Restoration Project

County: Jackson

Watershed: Bear Creek

The 2016 Bear Creek Riparian Restoration Project will restore degraded streamside habitat at the confluence of Lone Pine Creek and Bear Creek. Together, hundreds of students and Lomakatsi restoration experts will re-establish native trees and shrubs along and remove invasive weeds along the streambank. This vegetation improvement will shade the creek for anadromous fish, improve water quality, and provide a healthy and diverse forest for wildlife habitat. The planting will also stabilize banks to reduce erosion and sediment, provide nutrients for aquatic life, and create a future source of large woody debris for fish.

Native fish benefited: Summer steelhead, fall Chinook, coho, and lamprey

 

Alder Island Restoration and Visitor Access Project – Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council

County: Lincoln

Watershed: Siletz River

The Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council will work with a collection of partners to restore wetland habitat for anadromous fisheries and other wildlife on Alder Island in the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The project will create breaches in a levee surrounding the Alder Island Tract and include channel excavation to restore seven acres of diked wetlands to fully functional tidal marsh. In addition, trail construction around the perimeter of the island will be completed. These improvements will provide refuge visitors better access to hiking, fishing, wildlife observation and photography opportunities.

Native fish benefited: Spring and fall Chinook, coho, summer and winter steelhead, sea run cutthroat, and chum

 

Upper Sandy River Basin Habitat Restoration Project – The Freshwater Trust

County: Clackamas

Watershed: Sandy River

 The Freshwater Trust, on behalf of the Sandy River Basin Partners, will increase side channel habitat and floodplain connectivity on the Salmon River and Still Creek. The goal is to benefit federally-listed spring Chinook, coho and winter steelhead in the Sandy River basin by accelerating the recovery of natural conditions within the stream channels and floodplain areas. Funding will support the reactivation of flow to six historic side channels, construction of 51 large wood habitat structures, restoration of two alcoves, and placement of additional large wood in side channels and on stream margins. The project will use restoration techniques that are designed to be self-sustaining.

Native fish benefited: Spring Chinook, coho and winter steelhead

 

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About Blue Sky

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has ranked Blue Sky fifth or better in the nation for the 12th consecutive year in the number of customers buying renewable power. The Blue Sky Block, Usage and Habitat products are Green-e Energy certified; About 55,000 Pacific Power customers currently participate in the Blue Sky program across Oregon, Washington and California. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net/bluesky.

About Pacific Power

Pacific Power provides electric service to more than 740,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. Our goal is to provide our customers with value for their energy dollar, and safe, reliable electricity. Pacific Power is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, with almost 1.8 million customers in six western states. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net.

The Freshwater Trust

The Freshwater Trust is a group of bold problem solvers designing and implementing data-driven solutions that protect and restore America’s freshwater. Using science, technology, policy and finance, The Freshwater Trust builds and manages solutions that improve water quality and quantity. With data and 21st century tools and technologies, we enable smarter watershed management to happen faster and at a greater scale. We also employ our solutions on the ground for the benefit of both watersheds and the plants, animals and people that rely on them. For more information, visit www.thefreshwatertrust.org.


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