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Conservation crews seek to expand Gilbert River restoration

Sauvie Island residents with land bordering Gilbert River encouraged to participate


by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - A New Jersey family tours the grounds of Sauvie Island Stables, the site of a mile-long restoration effort along the Gilbert River. West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District officials are putting out a call to property owners who control land bordering the environmentally degraded Gilbert River on Sauvie Island.

“We currently have two projects along the river as part of our Healthy Stream Program,” said Kammy Kern-Korot, senior conservationist at the conservation district.

As the fiscal year begins, the conservation district is hoping to find more restoration opportunities on the island, Kern-Korot said.

“We have the funds to do almost all the installation and maintenance,” she said.

Kern-Korot said she is primarily interested in segments of the river with southern exposure, which are typically characteristic of high temperatures in creeks due to a lack of shade.

In the past few years, Kern-Korot said the conservation district has replanted a nearly one-mile stretch of the river’s banks along the property of Sauvie Island Stables, and will continue the project this fall.

The conservation district partners with the Sauvie Island Drainage Improvement Company to accomplish the large-scale planting efforts.

SIDIC District Manager Tim Couch, said his agency will excavate an area along the river to remove invasive weeds and establish a clean slate. After that, the conservation district will come through and install a variety of native plants and shrubs.

Couch said excavation will likely begin in September, but added it “depends on how the season goes.”

He said the window of opportunity falls between the end of the growing season and the beginning of duck hunting season.

Once the site is prepared, Kern-Korot said, a team from the conservation district will install the plants, typically in the winter. “We plant bare-root natives when there is a lot of water to avoid transplant shock,” she said.

Kern-Korot said planting teams have to be careful when woking in riparian areas with southern exposure to not plant too many shade-providing shrubs.

“One thing that we’re taking into account when we’re looking to create shade in the streams for the salmon is that, while we’re concerned about water temperature for the organisms downstream, we need to leave areas open for the turtles to bask in the sun,” she said.

Kern-Korot said the planting efforts have so far been very effective, transforming the sites from areas with little or no native vegetation, into well-established, diverse systems of native plants and shrubs.

Sauvie Island residents with property affected by invasing species along the Gilbert River are encouraged to contact Kern-Korot at 503-238-4775.