East Fork Lewis River Side Channel

The East Fork Lewis River (EFLR) is an important stream in the lower Columbia River system. It is one of the few undammed rivers with no hatchery programs, and supports five runs of native fish including fall chinook, winter & summer steelhead, coho and chum. It has been a designated wild steelhead genetic sanctuary since 2014. In 2017, the Estuary Partnership worked with local partners to restore two side channels along the river for salmon and steelhead.

aerial view of the EFLR
Aerial view of the EFLR

While the EFLR supports several salmonid stocks, the river and riparian areas have been impacted by dredging, mining, deforestation, grazing, and agriculture. Off-channel and floodplain habitats are critical for juvenile salmon and were historically abundant along the EFLR, but today these habitats are rare.

shallow channel before construction
The shallow channel before project construction

Construction crews with Aquatic Contracting excavated the side channels to reconnect them to the EFLR, allowing salmon to access critical off-channel habitat. Crews also found and removed an old truck embedded in the stream bank. In addition, through the project we added more than 175 pieces of large wood to the mainstem and side channels to create pools for salmon rearing, removed invasive plants, and replanted 12 acres of native riparian trees and shrubs to shade and cool the water.

an old truck is removed from the EFLR
Crews pulled an old truck from the banks of the EFLR during construction.


EFLR new side channel
Crews excavated this side channel and added large wood to create pockets of habitat for salmon.

This project is part of a large-scale, multi-phase project to restore critical habitat and thermal conditions for juvenile salmonids on the East Fork Lewis River between La Center and Daybreak, Washington. Improving fish access to habitat and the quality of habitats along the EFLR provides opportunities for migrating salmon to feed, rest, and escape high flow conditions. Songbirds, waterfowl, beavers, amphibians, reptiles, lamprey, and other wildlife will also benefit from the restoration.

side channel 2018
One of the side channels in 2018


drone image of the restoration project site
Our UAV (drone) captured the side channel project from above after construction.


Additional Contractors: Inter-Fluve provided engineering design services, and Sound Native Plants revegetated the site.

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Project Partners
Clark County Legacy Lands Program
Private Landowner

Washington Department of Ecology
Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board