The Freshwater Trust receives $115K from the National Forest Foundation

July 9, 2019

The Freshwater Trust (TFT) received an award from the National Forest Foundation’s (NFF) “Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences” program to support restoration within northwestern Oregon’s Mt. Hood National Forest.

NFF promotes the enhancement and public enjoyment of the country’s 193-million-acre National Forest System. By directly engaging Americans and leveraging private and public funding, NFF improves forest health and outdoor experiences. Each year, NFF restores fish and wildlife habitat, plants trees in areas affected by fires, insects and disease, improves recreational opportunities, and enables communities to steward their national forests and grasslands.

This $115,000 award will improve habitat for native fish in two high priority tributaries of the Upper Sandy River watershed, on sites located within the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Sandy River basin Chinook, coho and winter steelhead are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Populations have declined over the last century, due to degradation of habitat and other factors.

“We’re grateful to the NFF for giving us the chance to improve Lost Creek and Clear Fork in particular,” said Mark McCollister, habitat restoration director with TFT. “We will place almost 400 pieces of large wood in these two tributaries this summer in the form of single and multi-piece jams.”

Large woody debris is a critical component of healthy native fish habitat. Historic land and stream management activities in the basin removed wood from many tributaries, which resulted in high stream velocities and reduced instream habitat.

“With the help of helicopters, we’re putting wood back where it would naturally accumulate,” said McCollister. “The structures will provide refuge for the fish by slowing the water, promoting the recruitment of spawning gravels and reconnecting floodplains.”

 

These new projects build upon more than a decade of work in the basin with the Sandy River Basin Partners (Partners), a unique coalition of government agencies, local watershed councils, private interests and non-profit organizations. Together, they’ve directed more than $10 million of restoration investment to the basin.

Lost Creek was the site of NFF-funded project work in 2018, and remains a focus for the Partners in 2019.

“The Sandy basin is viewed as key to the eventual de-listing of certain species of Lower Columbia River basin salmon and steelhead,” said McCollister. “The work we do puts the habitat in place to support species recovery.”

Mt. Hood National Forest encompasses more than 1 million acres of dense forests and scenic lakes and streams. Welcoming more than 4 million visitors a year, it is one of the most popular national forests in the country.

“We want to increase the populations of threatened salmon and steelhead that call the rivers of the Mt. Hood National Forest home,” said Patrick Shannon, Pacific Northwest Director of the National Forest Foundation. “We are proud to support The Freshwater Trust’s efforts to restore the Sandy River basin for the future of the salmon.”

The Freshwater Trust and Columbia Helicopters transport large wood to key places throughout the Sandy River basin.