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A balancing act

Upcoming Expo an opportunity for land owners to help scientists restore wild habitat near Sandy River
by: SAM DREVO, ENRG KAYAKING Still in the water above the Alder Creek rapids in the Sandy River during the 2011 Expo are these enthusiastic people, who got a firsthand look at the river's needs and restorative efforts.

Ever wondered how climate change might influence the Sandy River and the lives of those who live in its basin?

If so, you'll be interested in attending the Sandy River Restoration Expo, set for Saturday, April 7, at Sandy High School.

The expo is a series of workshops and field tours designed to educate area residents about the effects of their lifestyles on the river and all life it supports.

The workshops are scheduled in the morning at Sandy High School, while the 'Streams of Dreams' field tours are either in the water, on land or in the snow.

'The range of topics in our workshops and tours demonstrate the important issues people are working on in the Sandy River basin,' said Steve Wise, executive director of the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council.

The popular float trip is expected to traverse the Sandy from Sleepy Hollow to the location of the former Marmot Dam.

During the trip, participants will see the work of the watershed council and other experts - work funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation - to restore historic side channels blocked by the 1964 flood and reopened by the removal of the dam.

New to the expo this year is a project conducted by inquisitive Sandy High School students, and it also involves an afternoon tour.

'Fish on Ice: Climate, Glaciers and the Sandy' is a project that Wise says is relevant to all area residents.

'The relationship between climate change, storm intensity and the way glaciers behave,' Wise said, 'may have an impact on salmon habitat and the way people live around the river.'

Sandy students, who already have done research, asked to be a part of the expo so they could talk with local residents about what their investigation has revealed.

The research is being backed by experts, and one of the afternoon tours goes to Old Maid Flats - or as close as possible, using snowshoes, skis or boots - to observe what effect glacial behavior has on the landscape and the river.

Another new walking tour is to a side channel (tributary) of the Salmon River that flows entirely through private land.

'About a dozen landowners got together and said, 'We'd like to see the (wildlife and fish) habitat on our properties restored,' ' Wise said. 'So the Forest Service, The Freshwater Trust and the watershed council worked together to recreate a meandering stream where the eroded stream had been straightened out.'

With some funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the side channel was restored by adding rocks and down trees (log jam imbedded in banks) as well as native plantings to the curved channel to create pools and shade and a natural habitat. Invasive species also were removed.

'The first phase of this project was completed last September,' Wise said, 'and by December we had 45 spawning wild coho salmon.'

Wise pointed to the success of the first Sandy River Restoration Expo that spurred local residents to become more involved and knowledgeable about the quality of local habitats.

'The community is more engaged than ever before,' Wise said. 'Just think about the successes we had on that (private land) side channel, where an action that was completed in September brought fish back within a couple of months that nobody had seen for years. Those kinds of things get people excited.'

Everyone is invited to the free expo, Wise said, but organizers would prefer preregistration.

For more information, visit sandyriver.org/expo or call Wise at 503-668-1428 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .