Row River 2.3 Restoration

The Freshwater Trust (TFT) is an Oregon-based non-profit organization with a mission to preserve and restore freshwater ecosystems. We are currently seeking new restoration projects like this one on Row River. If you own streamside land that is lacking shade trees, overgrown with blackberry, or otherwise would benefit from restoration of native trees and shrubs for local habitat, we’d love to talk to you. Learn more about the program here.


The Row River Mile 2.3 project is a streamside (or “riparian”) planting project on 3 acres in the Row River Nature Park in the City of Cottage Grove, Oregon. The goal of this project is to generate shade along the streambank by establishing a healthy riparian forest. Shading the river and side channels is important because solar radiation (sunlight) can warm the water too much for native cold-water fish such as salmon, trout, and lamprey during critical times in their life cycles.

Healthy forests provide other benefits in addition to shade, such as erosion control, filtration of excess sediment and nutrients, and pollution reduction. These benefits go beyond the stream channel because mature forests look beautiful and provide wildlife habitat for animals that live along the river corridor.

Before native trees and shrubs can be planted, invasive weeds such as Himalayan blackberry and reed canarygrass must be removed. This was accomplished in summer 2023 through mowing, mulching, and herbicide treatment. After the area is prepared, several thousand native trees and shrubs of many different species were planted in fall 2023 and winter 2024. These plants will help protect the health of the Row River and the floodplain, side channels, and ponds in the park. These hydrologically active areas provide valuable flood storage and recreation opportunities.

Pre-project conditions on a rainy day in March 2023:

Grassy riverbank

Post-project site conditions: Bare root and containers of native trees and shrubs were planted along the streambanks. Rainy and wet weather keep the new plantings well irrigated.

This area is home to an abundance of wildlife, including Western pond turtles, Spring Chinook, river otters, beaver, and migratory birds.

Trees planted here will include bigleaf maple, black cottonwood, red alder, western chokecherry, Pacific willow, and others. Shrubs planted here will include vine maple, blue elderberry, western crab apple, red-osier dogwood, Douglas spirea, common snowberry, and others.

Native trees provide shade, while native shrubs protect the landscape from invasion by non-native plants and provide flowers for pollinators and berries that become food for wildlife. Certain species thrive by the water’s edge, while others are more drought-resistant and thrive in the upland. All these plants help to develop a dense, healthy, multi-story riparian forest.

This site will be maintained for 20 years by The Freshwater Trust and the Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council through the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission’s Water Quality Trading Program, which requires projects to meet defined performance standards. Stewardship includes reducing invasive weeds such as reed canarygrass, Himalayan blackberry, English ivy, Canada thistle, and poison hemlock from overtaking the project area.

The Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission of Eugene-Springfield (MWMC) and The Freshwater Trust are partnering to use shade produced from restoring streamside forests to help the utility meet its water quality goals. As the plants grow at each restored site, they block solar load (heat from the sun), which generates “shade (thermal) credits.” These “credits” benefit the MWMC and fish because the MWMC registers them with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to comply with a wastewater permit to protect water quality under the federal Clean Water Act, while fish get the benefit of cooler water in the streams.

The Freshwater Trust selects sites using its StreamBank® BasinScout® tool, which prioritizes many potential sites based on different environmental benefits. Sites throughout the Upper Willamette basin are modeled to quantify the amount of thermal benefit (shade) possible under restored conditions. This allows the team to locate the most high-impact planting sites and work with willing landowners to restore them.

The Freshwater Trust closely monitors this restoration project to ensure that it is on track to meet performance standards and to identify stewardship needs. Additionally, sites in the water quality trading program have independent third-party verifiers that confirm that the site is meeting its performance targets and generating the environmental benefits needed to comply with the wastewater permit requirements.

This project covers 3 acres on the south bank of the Row River.

Get in touch

Have questions about restoration in the Upper Willamette watershed?
Alexis Graves, Restoration Program Coordinator

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Eugene Oregon

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