For fish, a healthy habitat means cool, clean water, plenty of shade, and places to spawn or hide from predators. In addition to ensuring safe passage around our dams, PGE and our partners have invested in restoring habitat on and along the Clackamas, using the same innovative and passionate approach that drives our fish passage work.
Habitat restoration is an ongoing effort on the Clackamas and its tributaries. So far, key successes include:
Cooler water in Faraday Lake: We dredged a deeper channel and shaped the lake bottom so water flows faster, creating healthier temperatures for fish.
More spawning grounds: PGE restored flow to the Oak Grove Fork that for years was inaccessible to Spring Chinook.
Shaded streams: To shade and cool the river and its tributaries, PGE has worked in partnership with the Clackamas River Basin Council to re-plant and restore 30 miles of river banks on the Clackamas River.
Habitat for Fish: Throughout the Clackamas River, PGE has built habitat that provides safe refuge and improves spawning grounds.
Gravel for water quality: PGE adds gravel at carefully selected locations downstream of the dams to improve habitats for spawning, mimicking natural deposits that would occur if the dams weren’t there. Gravel provides natural filtration and supports a thriving ecosystem.
Our partners in managing and restoring the Clackamas River Basin include the following:
Association of Northwest Steelheaders
Bureau of Land Management
Clackamas River Basin Council
Clackamas Soil & Water Conservation District
National Marine Fisheries Service
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Oregon Parks & Recreation Department
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Through the Clackamas Fund, PGE will award $8 million through 2030 to assist conservation organizations, governmental agencies and landholders in improving habitat in areas where native fish migrate, spawn and rear. The application-based program supports a wide range of projects, from restoring creeks to replacing culverts.
The first round of funding totaled $500,000 and was distributed in 2013. The second round, distributed in 2016, totaled $3.5 million. Most recently, PGE selected six organizations to receive $1.84 million in funding in the summer of 2019.
The next opportunity to apply for funding will take place in 2023. For more information, see the Clackamas Fund implementation plan , or contact Lindsay Smith by email at email@example.com or by phone at 503-630-8378.
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The Milo McIver Park project was designed to enhance salmon habitat on the Clackamas River by re-creating two relic side channels of the river near McIver Park. The location was deemed optimal for the development of juvenile salmon, and for a future educational site for the public.
In summer and early fall of 2014, crews restored the relic north and south channels at the site, removing sediment and creating a channel depth and slope so that seasonal flow fluctuations in the Clackamas River would not affect the channels’ ability to safely host fish.
While some sections of the existing channels were navigable, others were no more than densely wooded areas with marshy patches. Careful excavation ensured minimal disruption to the existing plant community while carving out a channel that would be reliably swimmable to fish.
PGE is partnering with the Clackamas River Basin Council in implementing the Shade Our Streams project. The project has begun planting several hundred thousand native shade trees and shrubs along 30 miles of the river and its tributaries. The plants will help shade the river, helping to help keep the river from warming up in the summer. Juvenile Salmon require cool water to rear before they migrate to the Pacific Ocean.
The Shade Our Streams program began in 2012 and in the first three years resulted in the planting of more than 230,000 trees and shrubs. Some of the first trees planted are already more than 10 feet tall and already working to help keep the river cool.
Invasive weeds are eradicated before native trees and shrubs are planted. “One of the best things we can do to support salmon recovery in the Clackamas watershed is to ensure a healthy riparian forest exists along the streams,” says Tim Shibahara, fish biologist with Portland General Electric.
The Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas starts near Timothy Lake and enters the Clackamas River about 20 miles downstream. In its lower four miles, it is home to Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead. This project, completed in 2014, allowed river flows to access 26 side channels through a combination of higher flows and manipulation of the channel entrances. Large logs were introduced to emulate naturally occurring logjams.
This newly re-watered side channel will help provide needed coho salmon rearing habitat. Soon after the channel was opened, biologists noted coho moving into this newly created habitat.
A critical piece of the Oak Grove Fork habitat program is to augment the gravel that is found in the river. This gravel will replace the material captured by the dam upstream. Logs are also introduced into the river to replace naturally occurring logjams, which help store gravel and provide cover for young salmon.