License Plate Revenues Go Back to Habitat Restoration

August 24, 2016


The Freshwater Trust has been awarded a $232,166 grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) to improve habitat for Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead populations in northwestern Oregon’s Sandy River basin.

Approximately $50,000 of the award comes from the revenue of the state’s Salmon License Plates program. The other portion of the grant awarded to The Freshwater Trust comes from lottery dollars and federal funds.

The Freshwater Trust was one of four organizations to receive a portion of the license plate revenues.

Introduced in the 1990s, the state’s license plate program provides a way for Oregonians to support habitat restoration for native fish. Drivers pay an additional $30 for the specialized plates, and the funds are dispersed between OWEB and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

“This project is a great investment of the state’s Salmon License Plate dollars,” said Meta Loftsgaarden, OWEB’s executive director. “This investment benefits Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, and Steelhead habitat, while also supporting the local natural resource economy.”

Once a stronghold for the Pacific Northwest natives, habitat for the basin’s native species has been negatively impacted by road construction, recreation, development, forest fires and timber harvests. Historic actions decreased habitat diversity and as consequence, native fish populations – so much so that Sandy River salmon and steelhead were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1999.

As a member of the Sandy River Basin Partners, a group of public and private organizations working to make vital improvements for the watershed, The Freshwater Trust has spent nearly a decade designing, planning, and strategically placing large wood, replanting native vegetation, and re-activating historic side channels.

“The outcomes of our work over the years are apparent,” said Jeff Fisher, habitat monitoring coordinator with The Freshwater Trust. “You can see that fish are returning to the places we’ve restored. It’s a powerful acknowledgement of the work we’ve been doing and will continue to do with the help of this grant.”

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