Council News

Lack of Snow Impacts Sandy Flow

Low snowpack this winter has made headlines across the state of Oregon, and the Sandy Basin is no exception. As of mid-March, the Mt. Hood snow gauges show that we are at 6% of average annual snowpack based on data recorded since 1981. This means that at sites that would typically have three feet of snow, we are currently seeing bare ground, and above 5,000 feet on Mt. Hood, hydrologists are finding three feet of snow where there would typically be 10 feet. Currently, the entire state of Oregon is below 50% of average snowpack, and Governor Kate Brown has declared a drought in four counties.

Snow measurement sites show a statewide lack of snowpack, with the highest levels still only 36% of average

Snow measurement sites show a statewide lack of snowpack, with the highest levels still only 36% of average. Drainages from Mt. Hood stand at 6% of average snowpack.

The interesting aspect of this lack of snow is that Oregon has received about an average amount of rainfall. This discrepancy means that we have not had enough cold temperatures for precipitation to fall as snow rather than rain. So far, this lack of snowpack will not be effecting drinking water resources, particularly for those receiving water from the Bull Run reservoirs, as they are primarily fed by spring rains and do not rely on snowmelt to provide water. A bigger impact of the low snow will be felt by our native salmon species.

A research article published earlier this year by employees from the National Marine Fisheries Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife discusses how increases in flow variability will make salmon recovery more challenging. Variability can include high peaks and lower low flows, or changes in the seasonality of typical flow. Pacific Northwest Rivers such as the Sandy typically receive high flows during large winter storms, and again in late spring or early summer as snow melts from our high peaks and feeds the river systems.


A log jam and restored side channel on the Salmon River


Our restoration work on the Sandy River and its tributaries can be critical to help mitigate these flow variation impacts to our river systems and salmon populations. In-stream actions such as the input of large wood and creation of floodplain storage or side channel flows can be important in helping store water. Over time, restoration actions mimic and promote natural river functions, including large wood accumulation, and can help moderate the impacts of increasing flow variability predicted with a warming climate.

In our efforts to restore habitat in the Sandy River Basin, we will continue to monitor current conditions and work with partners to conduct restoration projects that benefit the ongoing recovery of our wild salmon populations.

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Welcome to Our Fiscal Administrator

The Sandy River Basin Watershed Council is pleased to welcome our newest staff addition, Katherine Cory as our Fiscal Administrator. Katherine is excited to join the Council and bridge the gap between our finances and restoration work. Katherine is a Sandy River … Continue reading

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Year in Review 2014


If the Sandy River shows us anything, it is the power of migrations. Whether it’s the basin’s wild fish struggling upstream through a cycle that’s renewed itself for millenia, the forceful meanderings of the river’s channel in flood stage, the … Continue reading

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Reflecting on the Sandy River’s Record 1964 Flood

Joie Smith supervises the rescue of local residents stranded by roads and bridges that washed out access to upper Sandy River neighborhoods

The “Christmas Flood” of 1964 stands in the history books as the flood of record for the Sandy River. Many rivers throughout Oregon reached similar record-breaking levels, though the Sandy River corridor was one of the hardest-hit regions throughout the state. … Continue reading

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What We Did on our Summer Restoration

The new Sandy Watershed Learning Center office

This summer brought new homes for the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council and the wild salmon populations we strive to protect! Sandy Watershed Learning Center SRBWC established the Sandy Watershed Learning Center at Mt. Hood Community College’s campus in Gresham … Continue reading

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Restoration Season is Open


We’ve been hard at work wrapping up spring restoration projects and preparing for the summer season kick-off.  Here are some highlights from our spring projects and where to find us working this summer: Spring Review: This spring we hosted two … Continue reading

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Portland Residents Vote to Maintain Watershed Protection

The Bull Run River, before meeting the Sandy River

The Sandy River Basin Watershed Council joined a broad coalition of groups interested in the environment, social justice, and sustainable economies to urge Portland residents to vote “no” on the May 20th primary ballot for measure 26-156. The ballot measure was defeated … Continue reading

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Judge: Sandy Hatchery Violates Endangered Species Act

Salmon R weir 9-12

A Federal judge has ruled that the Sandy Hatchery violates the Endangered Species Act because of its impacts on wild salmon.  The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by Native Fish Society (NFS) and McKenzie Fly Fishers contending that the … Continue reading

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2013 Salmon Olympics


With the end of coho salmon returns and the arrival of winter weather, we’re happy to report the 2013 Fall Salmon Toss was a success.  With funding from the Portland Water Bureau and assistance from Oregon Department of Fish and … Continue reading

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Over 100 volunteers help plant the Sandy Delta

Photo courtesy of Brighton West

Around 130 volunteers planted 800 trees and shrubs at the Sandy Delta in an effort to restore native forest vegetation.  The Sandy River Delta is undergoing multiple methods of restoration, including invasive species removal, native plantings, wetland protection fencing, and the … Continue reading

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