By our count, there are at least 21 Watershed Councils and Friends groups in the lower Columbia River, all dedicated to caring for a tributary river or watershed. That’s not even counting Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Riverkeepers, Land Conservancies and other groups and coalitions dedicated to river health.
That’s great news, because the lower Columbia is a huge river system, and each spot has its own challenges. We caught up with a few of our local watershed councils to find out what they’ve accomplished lately.
North Coast Watersheds Association
The North Coast Watersheds Council is a collection of councils serving the lowermost tributaries of the Columbia, along with watersheds that drain to the north Oregon coast.
One recent focus of the NCWA has been efforts to restore federally-listed chum salmon, and they have been developing the Lower Columbia Chum Strategic Action Plan. As part of this effort, they recently launched a campaign called Return of the Redds. This collaboration brings together NCWA, local landowners, timber companies, nonprofits and government agencies—all united around the goal of revitalizing once-abundant chum salmon populations in Big Creek and Youngs Bay.
Watershed Alliance of Southwest Washington
The Watershed Alliance works throughout Clark County to improve water quality and restore waterways alongside the community.
They are currently working on a 10-acre revegetation project along Manly Creek in Battle Ground. This work will help bring down stream temperatures for the coho and other salmonids that use the stream.
The Watershed Alliance also gives city-funded neighborhood grants to support sustainable community efforts throughout the City of Vancouver. A recent project awarded the Maplewood Neighborhood Association with a $2,000 grant to create a community garden open for all (photo left). The neighborhood is classified as a “food desert” where residents lack convenient access to fresh produce and other healthful foods. Neighborhood volunteers created 25 raised garden beds and installed them on the Unitarian Universality Church of Vancouver property. The garden will use organic soil and no-till methods, and families are currently getting set to plant their first crops this spring!
Clackamas River Basin Council
Friends from the Clackamas River Basin Council told us “We are proud of our watershed community for its generous support to Replant the Riverside and recover from the September wildfires. We are able to plant 5,000 trees to restore riparian forests along 1,000 feet of the river that burned in the Riverside and Dowty Road Fires thanks to people pitching in and working together to heal.”
They proudly work with many watershed partners, and are especially proud of the team who worked to help them replant all over the watershed. They just released a short video about their Replant the Riverside effort near Bonnie Lure State Park.
The Basin Council is also currently working on a virtual tour of Clackamas River watersheds, and you can check out a preview slide featuring the estuary at sunset.
They are hosting another volunteer event for Replant the Riverside on March 20 - sign up to get involved!
That's only three of nearly two dozen groups. Whatever your local watershed council is, they would be happy to have your support!