Fish and wildlife populations living in the Clackamas and Deschutes River Basins are about to get a boost, thanks to funding from three PGE grant programs.
The Clackamas River Hydroelectric Project Mitigation and Enhancement Fund – often called simply the Clackamas Habitat Fund or Clackamas Mitigation Fund – recently selected five projects to receive a total of more than $2 million. Chosen for their promising benefits for native fish populations in the Clackamas River Basin, where PGE operates the Westside Hydropower Project, the proposed projects will create shadier streams, reduce the presence of invasive species and enhance the quality of habitat within the river and its tributaries.
“All of the organizations selected for funding in 2023 have proven track records of successful project implementation,” said Briana Weatherly, PGE’s hydropower license manager at Westside Hydro. “It is exciting to see the continued commitment and widespread community support for aquatic habitat restoration and enhancement in the basin.”
In Central Oregon, alongside the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Pelton Round Butte Fund contributed about $370,000 to the Deschutes Land Trust, a nonprofit partner dedicated to land conservation, for the second phase of their Ochoco Preserve restoration project. This multiyear effort, previously awarded by the Pelton Fund in 2021, aims to restore a 185-acre area critical for juvenile Chinook salmon and steelhead. Funds will be used to restore historic floodplains, create side channels where juvenile fish can rest on their journey to the ocean, and build an acclimation pond – an area where juvenile fish are held instream prior to release to adjust to the river’s conditions and imprint on the water’s scent. This process helps fish navigate their way back home as adults.
Restoration efforts at the Ochoco Preserve have increased the sinuosity – or natural curviness – of the stream and added large woody structures that make attractive habitat for migrating fish. (Below) After restoring the stream’s shape, native plants were installed.
“This project is upstream of the Pelton Round Butte Project and supports our long-term fish reintroduction program by helping to achieve a self-sustaining Chinook salmon population and a sustainable salmon harvest,” said Nancy Doran, PGE licensing specialist at Pelton Round Butte.
Both the Clackamas Habitat Fund and Pelton Fund help PGE offset some of the environmental impacts of generating power on Oregon’s river systems, and are included in each hydropower project’s operating license. Another habitat grant program, funded by customers, works a little differently.
The Habitat Support Fund is enabled by PGE Green Future℠ customers who opt to pay an additional monthly fee of $2.50. These contributions are dedicated to the restoration of local fish habitat, with preference given to projects in the Willamette, Sandy and Deschutes River basins. The Nature Conservancy, which administers these grants, selected six projects this year to receive a total of more than $163,000, with a combined impact on approximately 189 miles of river.
“We’re grateful for the PGE Green Future℠ customers who support these habitat restoration projects,” said Kelsey West, PGE grants manager. “Their monthly contributions to the Habitat Support Fund will have a lasting impact on fish, their habitats and the broader ecosystem.”
Together, these contributions will support ongoing environmental partnerships and create healthy habitats for species relying on the river systems where PGE generates power.
One of the projects funded by the PGE Habitat Support Fund helps organizations collect water quality data in the Crooked River Basin – an agricultural area upstream of the Pelton Round Butte Project with a large impact on overall water conditions.
Clackamas Habitat Fund:
Oregon Wildlife Foundation (two projects)
Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District
Clackamas River Basin Council (two projects)
Deschutes Land Trust
Habitat Support Fund:
Clackamas River Basin Council
Crooked River Watershed Council
Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve
Luckiamute Watershed Council
Nestucca, Neskowin, and Sand Lake Watershed Council
Upper Deschutes Watershed Council