Portland Water Bureau Grants Nearly $100,000 to Restore Habitat

June 28, 2016

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The City of Portland Oregon’s Water Bureau has awarded The Freshwater Trust more than $96,000 toward a multi-year project to restore fish habitat in Oregon’s Sandy River Basin.

The basin spans more than 500 square miles, and encompasses the Bull Run watershed, which provides drinking water for more than 900,000 Oregonians. While the Sandy River and its tributaries still offer critical habitat for salmon and steelhead, populations have plummeted over the last century. Sandy basin Chinook, coho, and winter steelhead are threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The Water Bureau makes funding available to restoration projects that benefit these species through its Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan. Sandy River Basin Partners compete annually for funding for restoration projects that are located in the Partners’ priority subbasins.

As a member of the Sandy River Basin Partners, a group of public and private organizations working together 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 opening side channels.

“Due in large part to the collaborative approach of the Sandy River Basin Partners, we’ve made some significant progress over the years,” said Marley Gaddis, grants director with The Freshwater Trust. “Yet there’s more to be done, and we’re fortunate to have support from the City and other funding partners to move this work forward.”

Much of the restoration work has focused on Salmon River and Still Creek, two tributaries of the Sandy River that are ecologically significant for native fish.

The Salmon River begins on the south slope of Mt. Hood and flows for 33 miles before entering the Sandy River. Still Creek is a tributary to the Zigzag River located within the Mt. Hood National Forest, in Northwest Oregon, near the town of Rhododendron.

“These waterways have been ranked among the top restoration priority areas in the Sandy basin,” said Gaddis. “Road construction, recreation, development, removal of large wood, forest fires, and timber harvest have negatively impacted aquatic and streamside habitat. Every action we take is designed to ensure the return of naturally-functioning conditions within these reaches, which will benefit the basin as a whole.”

The scope of work for the current project year is estimated to cost more than $900,000. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service are among other funders of the project.

“The Sandy River basin is viewed as key to recovering listed fish species in this region,” said Gaddis. “It’s a great thing to have so many in agreement and on board to help.”


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