The 'State of the Columbia River Estuary in 2020’ sounds like something fixed. But this report is more about Change. The Columbia—all rivers—are constantly in a state of change. Just as many tributaries flow into the Columbia, many changes have converged to create the current State of the Estuary since the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership's last report in 2015.
The river has seen dramatic changes in the last five years, like the 2017 Eagle Creek fire and an extensive 7,623 acres of floodplains, wetlands, and other habitat restored.
And important but less-visible changes, like the down-listing of the Columbian white-tailed deer and education programs that teach thousands of local kids about their watershed and how to take care of it. Or right-now changes, such as the Steigerwald Reconnection Project near Washougal, Washington, which will reconnect the river to 965 acres of historic floodplain habitat for the first time in generations. And of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, profoundly impacting how we respond to the changes around us.
To tell the story of where the Columbia River is in 2020, we have updated the way we present our fourth report, which we have shared every five years since 2005. This time, readers are invited to step in and out of our virtual river's facts and stories, anchored by five important, easily-accessible sections: Land Use, Education and Volunteers, Endangered Species, Water Quality, and Habitat.
Some stories are told through maps, graphs, and statistical analyses while others use images and videos to share their narratives. Altogether, they create a picture of the fluid state of the lower Columbia River in 2020.