NOAA Fisheries Recommends $3.8M in Funding for Clackamas partnership projects,
$1.2M to fund projects along the Clackamas River

May 1, 2023

Clackamas, OR – On April 22nd, 2023, NOAA Fisheries Services announced its intent to award $3.8M for fisheries restoration projects to the Clackamas Partnership, a Focused Investment Partnership of more than 15 Portland metropolitan organizations. Of the funding awarded, nearly $1.2M will fund three Clackamas River Basin Council restoration projects aimed at reconnecting historic side channels along the Clackamas River for fish habitat. Funding for this grant comes from the Transformational Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience program authorized through the Biden-Harris Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

The Clackamas River Basin Council’s Restoration Program Manager Isaac Sanders says, “This funding is going to have a big impact in the Clackamas watershed. Many Clackamas River fish runs have declined to the point of being listed on the Endangered Species List. Our three projects are directly targeting key limiting factors to salmonid recovery.”

In their 2018 Strategic Action Plan, the Clackamas Partnership cites lack of access to side channel habitat is a main environmental condition limiting recovery of salmon and steelhead populations in the Clackamas River. As juvenile salmonids migrate downstream from their natal creeks towards the Pacific Ocean, their survival is greatly improved with access to the side channels and off channel areas.

Sanders says, “Think of the Clackamas River like a busy freeway; side channels are like rest areas where migrating fish can pull over for food and calmer waters to conserve energy. These side channels allow fish to access complex floodplain habitats off the main river that provide ideal rearing and holding areas as they move down the river to the ocean. The enhanced side channel areas also support diverse communities of wildlife, including our state animal the beaver, important migratory birds like the Willow Flycatcher, and insects that are an important source of food for fish and wildlife.”

Through these three projects, the Clackamas River Basin Council will accomplish the following along the Clackamas River:

  • Restoration of roughly 100 acres of riparian habitat,
  • Improvements along approximately 3 miles of stream,
  • Reconnection of 2 miles of side channel habitat,
  • Planting of 240,000 trees and shrubs
Clackamas River Basin Council restoration project at Landslide Toe

Pictured on this right is a pre-project image of Landslide Toe, one of CRBC’s three sites that will benefit from NOAA Fisheries Services funding. At this 72-acre site, CRBC will reconnect a one mile long historic side channel. This area was heavily impacted by the 2020 wildfires, leaving burnt willows along this seasonal channel.

Side channel reconnection projects include excavating the channel to restart flow and installing large wood habitat structures throughout. Large wood in streams offers shade for cool water and cover for fish to avoid predators. Large wood also pushes water into floodplain habitats to create and maintain functioning wetlands, an increasingly rare habitat in the lower Clackamas watershed. As part of the side channel reconnection, the riparian zone along the restored channel will also be treated for noxious weeds and replanted with native trees and shrubs.

The Clackamas River Basin Council’s three projects are planned to occur over the next several years with the first project taking place on land owned by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in the summer of 2023. The other two projects are taking place in 2024 in Eagle Creek and 2025 in Clackamas.  

The NOAA Fisheries Services funding for the three projects will be leveraged by funding from the Oregon Water Enhancement Board through their Focused Investment Partnership (FIP) Implementation grant, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and other funders and in-kind supporters.

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. 

Want to support the Clackamas River Basin Council’s work? Please consider a donation to help us provide vital habitat for fish and wildlife in the Clackamas watershed:

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