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 extending spread and reach of our organization’s programs, or the community’s evolving understanding and actions around watershed health, the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council has experienced significant migrations through the past year.
On the 50th anniversary of the Sandy’s record flood, still clear in the memories of survivors of the Christmas Floods of 1964, we’ve helped residents and agencies gain a greater understanding of channel migration, the process through which the Sandy can shift its main streambed or even form new ones during high water events. And we’ve begun giving people the tools to apply restoration as a means to reduce potential flood risk.
We made space to boost future wild salmon and steelhead migrations by reconnecting an additional 3,000 feet of side channel habitat between Metro’s Oxbow Park and YMCA Camp Collins, the second straight year expanding reach-scale floodplain refugia for wild fish on the mainstem river. Alongside priority restoration sites upstream, and reaching to the river’s mouth at the Sandy Delta, the Council kept streambanks shaded, cool and clean through weed suppression, native plantings and cleanups that stretched from the Salmon River headwaters to the beaches of Dabney and Lewis and Clark State Parks.
And as our staff grew to a record three full-time employees, we spread our organizational wings and landed in new office space, the Sandy Watershed Learning Center on the Mount Hood Community College Campus, just a few stones’ throws from lower Sandy tributary Kelly Creek. The Council gained the services of three interns, as well as leadership from a newly elected Council Chair, Sandy City Councilor Carl Exner.
Our range of hands-on restoration projects combined to make 2014 a record year for the Council’s community engagement as well. We more than doubled the total number of volunteers – putting over 950 of you to work making the Sandy a healthier place for fish, wildlife, native plants, and the metro area’s favorite year-round outdoor adventures, nearly doubled the volunteer hours generated to over 3,000 for the year, and further expanded our diverse network of project partners and supporters.
These images capture a few highlights of our restoration year in the Sandy. We’re proud of progress we made this year, working together toward our mission to restore and protect the natural, cultural and historic resources of the Sandy. We’re profoundly grateful for the help many of you and your organizations have committed to this work. We look forward to where our partnerships, progress, and the Sandy’s migrations will take us toward future watershed health.