Location: At the confluence of the Clatskanie River and Conyers Creek on property owned by the Clatskanie People’s Utility District
Contractor: Aquatic Contracting LLC
Funding: The Regional Conservation Partnership Program through NRCS
In 2021 the Columbia Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) implemented a riparian restoration project in Clatskanie, Oregon, at the confluence of the Clatskanie River and Conyers Creek on property owned by the Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD). Project funding was provided by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) under a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) awarded to the Columbia SWCD to address degraded habitat conditions and water quality limiting the recovery of native salmon. Populations of Chinook, Coho, and Chum salmon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other significant species such as a district population of non-ESA listed steelhead, occur within the Clatskanie River-Conyers Creek watersheds.
Prior to the project, the riparian habitat along approximately 400-feet of the Clatskanie River and 200- feet of Conyers Creek was comprised of incised, over-steepened, slumping banks with lawn grass and Himalayan blackberry growing amongst some scattered small trees along the top of the riverbanks. To address the eroding riverbanks and degraded riparian habitat, the project involved excavation of the unstable over-steepened banks to more gradual slope angles and installation of biological structural elements such as large pieces of wood and plantings of native vegetation. To reduce erosive water flows and increase aquatic habitat cover and complexity, large pieces of wood comprised of logs and logs with rootwads were installed along channel margins. Native trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs were installed throughout the slopes excavated to more gradual angles and within the installed large wood. Overtime the planted native vegetation will establish dense riparian habitat that will shade the channel and help to decrease water temperatures. Dense riparian habitat also filters out pollutants and sediment transported to aquatic habitats through erosion and stabilizes river bank soils as planted native trees and shrubs establish extensive root networks.
The Columbia SWCD would like to thank the citizens of Clatskanie for being patient with the closure of the public access path that runs through the project area and would like to thank the Clatskanie PUD for being a great project partner. The path is open now, please feel free to check out the project. Maybe we’ll see you out there sometime as we monitor the establishment of the native vegetation. We are very excited about how this project turned out and we are looking forward to seeing how things progress overtime!