Happy Creek Reconnection
Our first portion of restoration in the Lower Sandy Basin, Happy Creek, has been rerouted to its original course and reconnected to the Sandy River. This project increases habitat for anadromous fish in a priority habitat zone identified by the Sandy River Basin Partners. This side channel reconnection included the creation of step pools to support fish swimming upstream, riparian plantings, the replacement of a culvert to reduce the impacts of a road crossing over Happy Creek, and the restoration of Happy Creek to its historic channel location. For more information and photos of the completed project, see our post about Happy Creek.
Restorative Flood Response Community Meetings
In the first phase of our Restorative Flood Response efforts, the Council organized community meetings and site visits following the major storm event in January 2011. The initial community meeting involved presentations from guest speakers (slides and background information can be found here) and was followed by visits to neighborhoods impacted by recent storms.
With assistance from technical experts in geomorphology, engineering, and restoration design, Restorative Flood Response participants explored potential actions that would restore floodplain processes and enhance habitat conditions for wild fish, while simultaneously reducing future erosion and channel migration risk. Restorative Flood Response Phase I emphasized that floodplain connection, habitat diversity, large wood log jams and other features of restoration can also reduce risk for homeowners and infrastructure. Additionally, these community meetings emphasized a need for collaborative efforts between adjacent landowners, recognizing that habitat restoration on a larger scale can benefit individuals.
Camp Collins Restoration
This second phase of the Lower Sandy Restoration Implementation includes a streamlined approach to reactivate and extend the seasonality of surface flow to 3,000 feet of side channel. By enhancing the historic channel with engineered log jams and restoring of the channel alcove habitat, this project directly address identified factors that limit access to floodplain and off-channel habitat for ESA-listed species. In-stream portions of this project are located within YMCA’s Camp Collins property, which is immediately adjacent to Metro’s Oxbow Regional Park.
Restoration projects focus in priority areas identified as high potential by Sandy River Basin Partners restoration assessments, modeling and plans: the Salmon River, Still Creek and the mainstem Sandy from the Zigzag River to the Sandy Delta.
Project goals include creating higher quality year-round rearing habitat for migrating juvenile coho, spring and fall Chinook, and steelhead and restoration of natural flood storage capacity. The first phase of the Lower Sandy Restoration directly upstream from Camp Collins has already been a success. Happy Creek was flowing and creating connectivity with the Sandy River during the first storm of the season, around September 30, 2013.
Restorative Flood Response Phase 2: Columbia Land Trust Side Channel Reconnection Design
Collaborative efforts to manage flood risk through restorative measures build upon the Restorative Flood Response project initiated after the historic flood and major bank erosion in January 2011.
The side channel reconnection near the Timberline Rim neighborhood will assist affected landowners in flood-impacted mainstem neighborhoods toward effective restoration. This project will develop designs for restoration actions as a demonstration site. The middle Sandy River encompasses priority salmonid habitat, residential development and significant road and utility infrastructure. Following design solutions on this reach of river, SRBWC will focus on restoring this floodplain adjacent to Timberline Rim neighbors.
Partners in this effort included neighborhood residents, restoration consultants from Natural Systems Design, Clackamas County Emergency Management personnel, and Columbia Land Trust.
Salmon Stronghold Habitat Restoration
Our recent focus on vegetation and in-stream habitat restoration has been within specific reaches of our upper watershed- along Salmon River and Still Creek. Through this project, we have created partnerships with local neighbors, the Freshwater Trust, BLM, the US Forest Service, and Project YESS among others. Our goal is to repair these target river reaches with key salmon spawning habitat and establish a healthy native riparian community.
Individual aspects of this project included six side-channel inlet activations completed in 2013, placement of large wood to increase pool complexity and emulate natural in-stream structures, removal of invasive species in riparian corridors, and replanting the stream banks with native vegetation. An intact riparian corridor ensures cooler water temperatures, prevents erosion, and maintains ecosystem functioning. The in-stream work creates higher value spawning habitat including pools and riffles in an already productive area of the upper Sandy basin.
We finished our associated riparian plantings in this project and collecting native seeds with Project YESS for future plantings in 2014 and followed up these partner efforts by conducting invasive plant monitoring and removal in 2013 and 2014.
Learn more about our efforts to target invasive Policeman’s Helmet in the upper watershed (and more about local partner efforts in watershed restoration) in this summer 2014 update.
Salmon Carcass Distribution
The Council has participated annually in the salmon toss, where we distribute salmon carcasses from the ODFW-operated hatchery along natural waterways with the goal of enhancing in-stream productivity and benefitting native fish populations. Hatchery carcass distribution boosts ocean-derived nutrient loads in places where a healthy salmon run historically would have supported life in the forest.
The Sandy River is home to three ESA-listed species: coho, chinook, and steelhead. Strong salmon returns benefit our community and ecosystems and are an indication of thriving populations. In order to protect habitat of these anadromous fish and mitigate impacts of providing water to local residents, the Portland Water Bureau has created a Habitat Conservation Plan that funds this effort. This plan specifically outlines salmon carcass distribution as a key action to benefit fish and enhance in-stream productivity and targets tributaries in the upper watershed to maximize the nutrient benefits downstream. This work is a partnership with the Portland Water Bureau, US Forest Service, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, and volunteer participants including local school groups.