Climate Adaptation

Climate change is affecting rain and snowfall, stream flow and temperature, and other key factors that in turn may impact habitat for fish and wildlife in the Sandy River.

The material and videos here review climate change, predicted conditions in the Sandy, and how we are working toward effective climate adaptation in the Sandy, the lower Columbia and beyond.
With help from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund, we're developing scaled strategies aimed to add resiliency to the river and its surrounding forests. The good news: restoration actions to bolster canopy cover and reconnect floodplains can reduce some of the key risks that climate change poses. As our workshop Resiliency Strategies for the New Normal pointed out, there is still time to take action.


Beginning at the Sandy River Delta, we're adapting our plantings to incorporate native trees and shrubs from warmer regions nearby that may thrive in warmer, drier seasons to come. And we're working with a range of partners to protect the Sandy's status as a cold water refuge, where fish, wildlife and people may find cooler temperatures than the lower Columbia, even as regional models predict future warming.

Climate Adaptation Workshop Series

Conservation practitioners, researchers, students and community members attended our workshop series on climate adaptation at Mt. Hood Community College. Presenters discussed the Sandy's importance as habitat and cultural significance, history of impacts at the Sandy Delta, projected climate changes including higher temperatures, changing snowpack, and stream flows.

Projected climate changes could increase vulnerability of forests, and the fish and wildlife that depend on them, but presenters also summarized studies that point to effective adaptation strategies. Anticipating future conditions can guide plant selection for forest restoration, so that plantings are more resilient to the changing Pacific NW climate. Restoring the forest along stream banks, modeling shows, can help cool streams in the long run to preserve cold water refugia, even as general climatic changes would tend to push stream temperatures warmer.

View individual presentations below:

Lowering the Temperature: A Workshop on Climate Resiliency in the Sandy River Basin

Video: Watch the full workshop


Workshop Presentations:

Steve Wise, SRWC: Climate Adaptation in the Sandy Introduction

Bill Weiler, SRWC: Sandy River Delta 2017-2018 Climate Activities

Thea Kindschuh & Hilary Sueoka, CRUX: Campus and Community Resilience: MHCC's canopy study and resilience related data resources

Jeremy FiveCrows: Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

Martin Merz, EPA: Columbia River Cold Water Refuges Project: Where does the Sandy fit in?

Tom Kaye, PhD, Institute for Applied Ecology: Pathways and Pollinators: Planting the Seeds of Regional Resiliency


Next Steps

Next steps in our climate adaptation work include replicating and refining the adaptive planting palette used at the Sandy River Delta, to add resiliency to future forest canopy, riparian and understory habitats throughout the Sandy and Lower Columbia River region. We are also working with Sandy River Basin Partners to integrate climate adaptation measures into basin-wide restoration strategies, and develop additional approaches to conserve the Sandy's status as a cold water refuge.


Funding for SRWC's climate adaptation work is provided from a grant by the Wildlife Conservation Society through the Climate Adaptation Fund. Support to establish the Climate Adaptation Fund was provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF).

New plants versus 1-2-3 year growth