$150,000 awarded to The Freshwater Trust for restoration work in Oregon’s John Day River Basin

June 30, 2015

June 29, 2015 — The Freshwater Trust has received $150,000 from the Bella Vista Foundation for restoration work in Oregon’s John Day River Basin.

The river restoration nonprofit is working with a diverse group of public and private partners committed to addressing the needs of the basin. The Trust will use awarded funds to aid in the planning, design, implementation, and monitoring of projects to improve habitat and streamflow.

The Bella Vista Foundation’s Ecosystem Restoration program focuses on protecting, restoring, and revitalizing high-priority watershed ecosystems in California and Oregon. As the second longest free-flowing river in the continental United States, the John Day River furnishes key habitat for summer steelhead, spring Chinook, bull trout, redband, and westslope cutthroat trout and Pacific lamprey.

“This basin is a top restoration priority and opportunity for endangered and threatened fish,” said Mark McCollister, habitat restoration director with The Freshwater Trust. “With the ongoing pressures of agricultural production, continued population growth and climate change, restoring the John Day will require collaboration and innovation.”

With funding from Bella Vista, the nonprofit will use its Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based methodology called StreamBank® BasinScout™ to generate a list of prioritized sites for restoration.

“Using this GIS-driven process, we’ll pinpoint specific sites to focus our restoration efforts’” said McCollister. “From there, we’ll have a ‘restoration road map’ and be able to implement the most effective actions in the right places and make the biggest difference possible for the watershed.”

This funding will also aid The Freshwater Trust in its efforts to quantify the restoration of streamflow on Rock Creek. Irrigation withdrawals have been known to nearly dry up the channel. Leaving more water instream keeps the temperature of the water at a more hospitable level to support steelhead and salmon.

The awarded funds will also help launch a large-scale habitat restoration project for the Middle Fork John Day and Bear Creek on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

“The basin’s restoration needs and land uses provide The Freshwater Trust with a unique opportunity to combine a variety of restoration approaches and to link private and publicly-owned project sites to address basin-scale conservation issues,” said McCollister.

With past support from the Bella Vista Foundation, The Freshwater Trust has implemented a range of collaborative conservation actions in the region, including a large-scale channel reconnection project on the Middle Fork John Day River and project work with landowners on Rudio Creek to restore habitat.

Since 2000, the nonprofit has also planted trees, decommissioned roads, removed non-native fish species, fenced critical habitat areas to reduce the water quality impacts of grazing, worked with ranchers to develop alternative grazing strategies, and restored significant stream flow. A portion of new funding will be used to monitor projects already in progress.

“There’s work to do,” said McCollister. “But through strategy, partnership and innovation, we’re making progress toward seeing this Oregon gem protected and restored.”

Founded in 1983, The Freshwater Trust accelerates the pace and scale of freshwater restoration through the use of science, technology and incentive-based solutions to restore rivers on a timeline that matters. The nonprofit uses quantified conservation to fix more rivers faster and in 2013, received the U.S. Water Prize for its innovation.

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