J Creek Side Channel Project – Latest Update

Construction on the “J” Creek Side Channel Reconnection Project completed in August 2023. This reconnected side channel increases and improves habitat for threatened and endangered native fish species in the Clackamas basin. The project, which which took place downriver from Carver Park off Clackamas River Drive, involved digging out a historic side channel off the Clackamas River, installing large wood, and restoring a degraded riparian area.

Lack of quality side channel habitat has been identified by the Clackamas Partnership as a primary limiting factor to salmon recovery and young fish need access to these off channel habitats. The Clackamas River Basin Council’s Restoration Program Manager Isaac Sanders puts it this way, “If you think of the Clackamas River like a freeway, these side channels are like rest areas where juveniles can eat, rest, and avoid predators. Fish species such as Chinook and Coho Salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey will benefit from these side channel rest areas and get stronger and more equipped to handle their road trip to the ocean.”

Outcomes of this project include:

  • Reconnection and enhancement of a 1,680’ side-channel.
  • Increased fish access to riparian floodplain areas.
  • Increased large wood habitat for fish and other wildlife.
  • Removal of invasive weeds.

Is this project be visible from the river?

Recreationist and anglers can see evidence of the enhanced side channel while they enjoy a float from Carver Park to Riverside Park. Large woody structures that look natural, but maybe intentionally placed, can be observed. The image below shows the view from the river.

What are side channels?

Side channels are complex habitat systems consisting of floodplains, ponds, and woody habitat that provide the necessary rearing environment for young fish as they migrate downstream. Today, few high quality side-channel habitats remain in the Clackamas River below River Mill Dam. Development, land management, power generation and other habitat altering activities change natural river systems and contribute to the loss of these side-channels.

While salmon and many other fish populations are declining to the point of being listed on the federal Endangered Species List (ESA), the Clackamas River and its tributaries support some of the healthiest fish populations in the region. Side channel enhancement projects such as this further our efforts to recover these populations.

The project is funded by the Oregon Water Enhancement Board through their Focused Investment Partnership (FIP) Implementation grant and the U.S. Forest Service. The newly constructed side channel will be further stewarded by landowners who have been champions of this project since its inception. We thank all our partnering residents for their support through this project!

The Clackamas River Basin Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission of fostering partnerships for clean water and to improve fish and wildlife habitat and the quality of life for those who live, work and recreate in the watershed.  

Support our salmon recovery work!

You can read more about this project on the Clackamas Partnership’s website: