Blue Sky Habitat Customers Helped Fix Rivers in 2014

In 2014, Blue Sky Habitat customers helped fund four native fish habitat restoration projects in Oregon benefitting streams in the Rogue, Illinois, Sandy and Bear Creek watersheds.

Blue Sky Habitat funds are helping to restore more than four river miles through the following activities: removing invasive streamside vegetation and planting native plant species; incorporating bioswales to treat urban runoff flowing through the newly planted vegetation; replacing a 150-year old leaky irrigation ditch with a highly efficient groundwater pump system; reactivating flow to seven side channels that were completely dewatered; restoring two alcoves; and constructing large wood habitat structures and placing large boulders to improve native fish habitat.

In total, projects received $102,680 from Blue Sky Habitat customers which then leveraged $937,709 in matching funds from a variety of organizations. That means more than $1 million went to Blue Sky projects in 2014.

Here is an update on a Blue Sky Habitat project that was recognized by the Oregon State Land Board for Outstanding Stream Project last year.

Upper Sandy River

Still Creek Pre-projectPre-project: Prior to the restoration project, a side channel was closed and completely dewatered.

Uniquely situated in Portland, Oregon’s backyard, the Sandy River basin is an area of wild-land and salmon refuge in an increasingly urban and suburban landscape. It encompasses more than 500 square miles of public and private land and provides drinking water for more than 800,000 people. Unfortunately, nearly 50 miles of streams in the basin fail to meet water quality standards for temperature and bacteria, and historically abundant wild salmon and steelhead runs remain constrained by habitat loss. These threats to water quality, fish and stream health are growing due to increasing residential development pressure.

Still Creek - afterPost-project: With the help of Blue Sky Habitat customers, the side channel was reopened and supports rearing and spawning habitat for native fish.

In 1999, a unique coalition of government agencies, the local watershed council, private interests and non-profit organizations formed the Sandy River Basin Partners to restore habit for salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act. Through the collaborative process, the groups completed basin-wide and a comprehensive restoration strategy which provides a hierarchical approach to addressing the watershed’s limiting factors through restoration work. These efforts identified Still Creek, Salmon River and the mainstem Sandy River corridor as providing key habitat for spring Chinook, coho, and winter steelhead, and the Sandy River Basin Partners prioritized these areas for habitat restoration. In 2014, US Forest Service, The Freshwater Trust and Bureau of Land Management lead restoration activities in the Salmon River and Still Creek with the help of Blue Sky Habitat funding.

Project activities included the reactivation of flow to seven historic side channels, restoration of two alcoves, construction of 43 large wood habitat structures, placement of 205 boulders, placement of additional large wood in side channels and installation of native streamside plants.

2014 Projects: By the Numbers (upon project completion):

  • 2014 Blue Sky Habitat funds: $88,180
  • 2014 leveraged funds: $645,577
  • Stream miles restored: 3.65
  • Instream large wood habitat structures built: 43
  • Large boulders placed: 205

Total Projects: By the Numbers (2011 to present):

  • Total Blue Sky Habitat funds: $446,775
  • Total leveraged funds: $5,800,313
  • Stream miles restored: 42.75