Construction is underway!
Floaters and boaters may notice construction along the Clackamas River for a six-week period this summer 2022. The Clackamas River Basin Council will be busy working on the Sieben-Riverbend Side Channel Enhancement Project and improving habitat for threatened and endangered native fish species. The project, taking place at the confluence of Sieben Creek and the Clackamas River, began July 15 and will continue through the end of August, 2022.
The Sieben-Riverbend Side Channel Enhancement Project will reconnect and enhance a 1,750’ side-channel off the Clackamas River and increase fish access to restored riparian floodplain areas. The project involves digging out the channel, installing large wood habitat, removing invasive weeds, and replanting the riparian area with native trees and shrubs.
“The goal of the project is to increase habitat for fish in the Clackamas River such as Chinook and Coho Salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey,” says Isaac Sanders, Clackamas River Basin Council’s Restoration Program Manager. “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 and side channel enhancement projects such as this further our efforts to recover these populations.”
The Clackamas Partnership, a group of organizations voluntarily committed to a collaborative approach to improving watershed health, identified lost access to side-channels as a limiting factor to the recovery of salmon. 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.
This project will be further stewarded by nearby landowners who have been champions of this project since its inception. Maury Wickman, Treasurer of the Clackamas River Community Cooperative, a mobile home community just behind the project site, is eager to see the improvements to fish habitat in their backyards. “Our community is comprised of many different people but a common thread is the love of our green spaces,” says Maury. “ We are excited to further enhance our riparian area and create an environment for the fish and wildlife to flourish. What’s healthy for the fish and wildlife is ultimately healthy for us humans too. This river supplies over 300,000 of us with high quality drinking water. We are glad to partner with this project.”
Should recreationists be concerned about the construction? Amy Barton, Clackamas River Basin Council’s Communications and Stewardship Manager says, “There shouldn’t be too much to worry about if you are recreating on the river. The construction will be visible from the river, and we advise everyone to stay out of the side channel area, but floaters will be well away from contractor’s equipment.”
While the ecological enhancements might be unnoticeable for those enjoying the river, the changes will be dramatic to fish, who will now have increased access to this side channel and its riparian areas. And, the project will benefit more than fish; new studies from Oregon State University show that many other animal species utilize large woody structures like those that will be created for this project.
The project is funded by the Oregon Water Enhancement Board through their Focused Investment Partnership (FIP) Implementation grant and other local, state and federal grants.
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.