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RIVERS OF LIFE

Expo offers hints, skills for keeping streams clean, healthy
by: Russ Plaeger One of the students from a David Douglas High School natural resources class plants native vegetation along a side channel of the Salmon River in the Bureau of Land Management’s Wildwood Recreation site. The class worked one Saturday each month to monitor and improve the site.

Steve Wise, Russ Plaeger and about 20 other people would like to talk with more than 1,000 landowners who have streamside property in the Sandy River watershed.

Wise and Plaeger are staff members of the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council. The local group is one of about 40 councils around the state, all funded through lottery revenue, which focus on improving fish and wildlife habitat.

Wise, as executive director, says there are many more than 1,000 families with the ability to affect Sandy basin streams, when one also counts the families who live, as he says, 'across the street' from streamside property owners.

All of these families have a profound impact on the quality of the stream and the water near their properties.

'It's a little bit daunting to think there are so many people involved in deciding what's going to happen to the river,' Wise said. 'On the other hand, you have this shared responsibility.'

That responsibility, Wise said, involves giving people the tools, methods and knowledge, and then finding dollars for projects that will help restore the river and any of its tributaries.

Restoration Expo

Toward that end, Wise and Plaeger, who is the land stewardship coordinator, along with the volunteer council and the Portland Water Bureau, have organized a day to give people the knowledge as well as show them the restoration tools and methods - both in the classroom and in the field.

The first Sandy River Restoration Expo, which will kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 9, at Sandy High School, 17100 Bluff Road, is going to be a resource fair for streamside landowners, Plaeger said.

'If you're a person who owns property along one of the streams or rivers,' he said, 'you're going to have the opportunity to choose a couple of workshops in the morning and a field tour in the afternoon.'

Morning workshops

Among the workshop topics is how to identify and control non-native invasive plants that might be on streamside land.

Also on the agenda is a primer on native plants suitable for erosion control, adding fall color and other practices that benefit the landowner, the property and the stream.

A workshop on funding sources should give participants ideas about small grants and other incentive programs to help restore stream habitat.

Another workshop will help attendees understand what makes a good salmon habitat and how to achieve that goal.

Resource fair

Also in the morning, there will be a resource fair in the Sandy High School gymnasium. At the fair, people will find displays from many agencies and organizations concerned with topics of interest to landowners.

Some of the agencies expected at the fair include the Portland Water Bureau, Soil and Water Conservation District, SOLV, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Mount Hood National Forest, National Marine Fisheries Service and Clackamas County.

Not only to benefit wildlife, all of these topics also aid people and their lifestyles, Plaeger said. For example, restoring an eroding stream bank, he said, would reduce the amount of sediment in the water that ends up in domestic pipes downstream.

That restorative treatment also improves the habitat for all the small creatures that live streamside as well as the wildlife living in the area.

Afternoon tours

In the afternoon, Expo participants can choose from several field tours. Space is limited on most tours, Plaeger said, so early preregistration is suggested.

Those tours include a visit to the old Marmot Dam site with a fish biologist from the Portland Water Bureau and a member of the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council.

The afternoon also includes a tour of a portion of the Bull Run watershed, led by staffers from the Portland Water Bureau. The Bull Run Watershed is Portland's water source and will be a water source for Sandy in a couple of years.

Another bus will take 24 people to several salmon habitat restoration projects, where landowners can explain their perspective on the projects.

Finally, Wise and guides from Northwest River Guides will take people on a float trip down about 3 miles of the Sandy.

'There's no better way to get to know the Sandy than by floating it,' according to a statement on the Watershed Council's Web page.

Details and information

For the guided float trips, to cover the cost of transportation, equipment and guides, a $10 fee will be requested of each person.

Preregistration for workshops and field tours can be accomplished by calling Rhoda Givens at 503-210-6008.

For more information on the restoration expo, visit sandyriver.org/

expo/schedule.php or send an email to Wise at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call him at 503-668-1428.