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Willamette RIVERKEEPER ®

Riverscape Spring/Summer 2019

Making Waves
Over the past few years, a relatively new trend has been seen
on the Willamette—boats that produce waves for surfing.
The practice, known as wake surfing, is commonly seen on
the lower Willamette from Willamette Falls to downtown
Portland, and most of all, above the falls to Newberg.

Specially designed boats now produce waves larger than

any we have seen before. Wakes have been problematic for
safety and sensitive river habitats, with some limits being
placed by the Oregon State Marine Board on such boats by
creating No Wake Zones in a few areas. Unfortunately, the
Marine Board has not kept pace with the newer, larger craft
specifically designed to sit very deep in the water, and when
traveling between 8 and 12 miles an hour, they produce waves
large enough to surf continuously.
Boats with wake enhancing devices can create waves that
We believe this form of recreation may have its place on very are several feet high.
large lakes and reservoirs, but we feel that it is pretty tough
on the mainstem Willamette. While it is a big river in places, Continued on Page 3...

Restoration Taking Root

This past February and March marked our 4th year planting
at Willamette Mission State Park. Our project partners at Ash
Creek Forest Management planted 63,000 bareroot stems
at our restoration site; this is on top of the 334,870 native
trees and shrubs that have been planted since the project’s
inception. When all phases of the project are completed, we
anticipate having restored 502 acres of floodplain forest, 45
acres of scrub-shrub wetland, and 80 acres of aquatic habitat
for a total of 627 combined acres of enhanced habitat.

While some may think that winter does not feel like planting
season, this timing assures these young plants the greatest
success. Most native plants go dormant in the winter months,
and once spring hits they find themselves waking up and
adapting to the conditions of their new home. Planting in
One contractor can plant up to 1,000 trees and shrubs in one day. winter also ensures that these young plants are able to take
Continued on Page 2...

From The Riverkeeper

After nearly twenty years as Executive learning first-hand about the river, and
When he’s not advocating for water,
Director and Riverkeeper, I’ve had the gaining a greater knowledge and
he can be found walking on it
—Lake Mendota, Wisconsin opportunity to partner with and engage affinity for what the Willamette River
a wide variety of citizens within our offers us all.
Willamette Valley community. All of us at
One of the things that helps to
WR have been consistent and creative in
define who we are at WR, and what
connecting people to the river and to our
characterizes our culture, is our ability
core mission, and we continue to do so.
to do what is right for the river. We will
In some ways it is simple—inspire people
continue to be the entity that fights
to do more for their river.
for improved water quality, healthy
Whether joining forces with formerly habitat, and stewardship across all
houseless folks in Eugene and Springfield Valley communities.
to provide river stewardship, to engaging
I thank all of you who have stood by
at risk youth with river education
us and supported our work over the
service trips, or partnering with the
years, and I thank all of your who are
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde to
joining our collective effort to protect
expand mussel research, our diverse
and restore the Willamette River’s water
relationships and programs have
quality and habitat.
resulted in many thousands of people

Restoration Taking Root, Cont.

advantage of a longer period of access If you want to learn more about what
to water, acclimatization, and root a day-in-a-life looks like for one of
growth before the hot, dry, summer our contracted crew members during
months arrive. planting season, you can get a glimpse
in this short film by One Tree Planted:
As part of the Willamette mainstream
Anchor Habitat Investment Program, WR
was awarded this work through various
sources. Because of our strong funding
partnerships we were able to articulate
an association between healthy
floodplain forest habitat and the survival
of salmon and other important fish
and wildlife species. As the project
manager, WR works with contractors
to conduct weed abatement and
site preparation, planting, plant
establishment, and aquatic invasive
weed control at a growing number of
locations along the river.
We wish this sapling a long and happy life.


Making Waves, Cont.

the average 400–600ft in width is not enough for this form of
recreation that often has multiple craft doing the same thing
in a relatively small area. We feel this way because of potential
impacts to nearshore habitat, impacts to private property, and
safety issues with other river users.

Three to four foot waves that run perpendicular to the

shoreline are not something that the Willamette River naturally
produces, or ever has produced. It is easy to see the erosional
impact, which many homeowners in the area have documented,
and the impact to docks. In fact, large chunks of shoreline have
fallen into the water during the summer months, as well as full Willamette River in Newberg (photo:
trees. When such wave activity occurs, the nearshore area is
rules. Yes, this could make wake surfing a thing of the past in
full of sediment—not a natural summer condition.
some areas of the river. To date, the OSMB has had a very
Dr. Stan Gregory of OSU recently testified that such large wakes poor response to this issue. More often they work to deflect
on the Willamette River may have a detrimental impact to the impact to an absurd array of other factors such as “poor
river species, such as juvenile and adult spring chinook (listed dock design.”
under the Federal Endangered Species Act as Threatened)
In a time when we are spending tens of million of dollars to
that are known to be in the Willamette in these habitats, even
improve fish passage, improve habitat, improve flows and
in the summer months when wake surfing is at its height.
to ensure river temperatures are as natural as possible it
Furthermore, such large waves may have a detrimental impact
makes little sense to allow large artificial waves to potentially
to the very ecological function of the nearshore habitat.
degrade nearshore habitat. It also brings up a fundamental
In the 2019 Oregon legislative session, HB 2351 was introduced question, if an unnatural 4ft wave is ok, is a similar 6ft wave
to make the Oregon State Marine Board incorporate Land ok throw to the shoreline? How about a 10ft wave, or a 15ft
Use Planning Goal 15 (the Willamette River Greenway), into wave? Where do we draw the line?
their rules. This would make the OSMB take much needed
We will continue to work with our members living in the
consideration of ecological impacts to the Willamette into their
Newberg pool, as well as other partners, to address this issue.

Join these Upcoming River Discovery Trips

Details and registration: Elk Rock Island Paddle & Native Plant Walk: May 30
Join us, the Native Plant Society of Portland and North
Clackamas Parks and Recreation for a paddle and hike to Elk
Rock Island as part of Native Plant Month PDX! Explore the
island’s vernal pools, rare plant species and habitat types.

Willamette River Greenway Celebration Paddle: June 29

Pick up a paddle and celebrate the Willamette River Greenway
with WR and our friends at Oregon State Parks! Enjoy a scenic
paddle trip from downtown Salem to the Wheatland Ferry
where we’ll observe wildlife while learning more about the
river, its history, and our combined efforts to improve habitat.
Paddling around Elk Rock Island Free canoes and shuttle provided.


Emerging Invasives
The Willamette, like many other rivers, is increasingly beset Willamette. WR staff have seen it on several occasions over
with invasive species. From floodplain plant species, such as the past couple of years, but we’d like to better understand
Teasel and Himalayan Blackberry, to aquatic species such as its distribution from upstream to down. We also plan to work
ludwidgia—the increasing presence of species that negatively with volunteers and other organizations to strategize ways to
affect the river ecosystem is problematic for river health.  address its spread.

WR is working hard to address a number of plant species

that are wreaking havoc on floodplain habitats, and in the
river itself. 

Relatively new to the river over the last few years is another
invasive, the Red Swamp Crayfish. This species is more
aggressive than the native Signal Crayfish, and is known to
out-compete the Signal for habitat and food. It typically has a
reddish hue, vs. the native signal that has more muted brown
Invasive Red Swamp Crayfish
with a tinge of orange. 

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife,

“crayfish are among the most impactful of aquatic invasive
species.” They are known to be “ecosystem engineers.” Their
ability to burrow into riverbanks can alter basic wetland
properties, such as reducing vegetation, increasing turbidity
and destabilizing the bank. It is suspected that they have been
introduced via aquaculture as well as anglers who may be
using them as bait.

In the coming field season, WR plans to conduct some work Native Signal Crayfish
to determine the extent of this species on the Upper

Weed Workshops
Help prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species in the Community Workshop: June 27
Willamette River! This workshop will focus on the identification and phenology
Details and registration: of native and aquatic invasive weeds. Plan on this being an
active day, paddling from Hyak Park to Bowman Park in
Albany, with a stop for lunch and plant identification session
at Bryant Park.

Paddle and Pull Events: July 18 & July 30

Join us along with Oregon State Parks, Benton County Soil
and Water Conservation District, the Willamette Mainstem
Cooperative, and the Willamette Aquatic Invasive Network for
a day of mapping and hand-pulling aquatic invasive species.
Paddle your own boat or sign up to borrow one of our canoes.
Enjoy time on the beautiful Willamette while helping to abate
Aquatic weed samples noxious weeds!


Growing Guardians
From its humble 2015 beginnings
in Eugene-Springfield, WR’s River
Guardians Program has more than
doubled its volunteer engagement,
steadily growing its resources and
efficacy to serve as a primary driver
of river stewardship along the south
valley urban waterfront. Over the years,
volunteers have received professional BEFORE AFTER
training in water safety and trauma
Meadows and Sequoia Creek, a smaller
informed communications, in partnership
tributary of the Willamette. Corvallis
with the American Canoe Association
River Guardians “Trashy Thursday”
(ACA) and the Eugene based mental
cleanup efforts will continue once a
health response agency, CAHOOTS. The
month through 2019. You can also join
City of Eugene also donated two 14 ft.
a Trashy Tuesday event in Portland,
rafts, to help get more volunteers on
Eugene, or Salem this summer.
the river, monitoring, removing and
transporting trash off the waterway.
By the numbers, River Guardians are
monitoring more miles and clearing
more debris than ever, partnering with
local agencies and businesses to bring
more stewardship opportunities to more
people in Upper Willamette communities.

Following on this success, we have

expanded River Guardians to Corvallis Oregon State Parks River Ranger and WR
in partnership with the City of Corvallis. board member, Scott Youngblood, works
Launching just after Thanksgiving 2018, with a young River Guardian at Crystal Park
volunteers and partners from Corvallis in Corvallis.
Parks and Recreation, Oregon State Intrepid River Guardian in action
Parks, ACA and Marys River Watershed
Council removed over 4 yards (1700 lbs.)
of trash from the floodplain at Crystal
river guardian stats

Lake Park. In January, volunteers took

to the river, clearing 2 yards (over 600 2016 2017 2018
lbs.) of garbage and several needles
from riverbanks between the Marys

River confluence and Michael’s Landing.



Efforts will continue on the mainstem


and associated floodplain throughout



the year, with additional support from



Corvallis Public Works this spring, and


a focus on new restoration at Seavey

yards of trash # of volunteers needles volunteer hours


FIRST ONE LAUGH, THEN ANOTHER, soon a chorus of echoing

laughter fills the air as we paddle our way down the River of Mellow for five
glorious days. Yes, friends, it’s again time to don the smiles and suntans, then
laugh our collective way down your beautiful-and-nobody-knows-it Willamette
on the wonderfully outfitted, award-winning Paddle Oregon. There will be food
that borders on the sublime. There will be stars. Tents. Music. And a moon so big, bright and full
you can’t help but howl. Best of all, there will be friendships made and remade, anointed by a
National Water Trail so magical you’ll wonder how long a secret this amazing can possibly be kept.

PA D D L E O R EG O N 2 0 1 9

Paddle to a quiet Willamette River back channel, set up your camp, then join your new friends for an
evening of wine tasting featuring four local wineries alongside an equisite, catered dinner with live
music and entertaining talks. Wake up to the sound of river birds and the sizzle of breakfast, then
paddle your way to lunch and the most beautiful day you’ve had in ages.
JUNE 15TH - 16TH • Details at



Springing For Your River Board of Directors

James Tiefenthaler, President

is a WIN-WIN! Jessie Rohrig, Secretary

Bart Rierson, Treasurer
Belinda Covarrubias
Your support is critical to our success in • Donate a minimum of $10 or more
Scott Youngblood
protecting and restoring the river, which per month for 1 year
is why we offer opportunities throughout • Increase your current monthly Staff
the year for you to directly engage with donation by $10 for 1 year Travis Williams,
advocacy, restoration, trash clean ups, • Make a one time donation of $120 Riverkeeper & Executive Director

research and educational paddle trips. or more Marci Krass,

We hope that you will join us for one, if Restoration Manager
The Prize
not many, adventures in 2019! Kate Ross Kuthe
• An 18ft Wenonah Champlain Outreach & Education Manager
WIN Our “187 Miles of Wonder Ultra-light Kevlar Canoe
Michelle Emmons,
Package”—We view any donation as • 2 Wenonah Tour-Lite Paddles South Valley Advocate
a “win” for the river, and now through • 2 Stohlquist Edge Lifejackets
August 16th, if you spring for your river, Heather King,
• A “187 Miles of Wonder” art poster Development Director
in one of the following ways listed below, and more!
you will be entered to WIN more than Richard Dickinson,
Restoration Associate
$4,000 worth of paddling gear, thanks to
a generous donation by Paddle People: Advisory Board
Celeste Searles-Mazzacano
Torey Wakeland
Mike Houck
Barbara May

Oregon Iris

Printed on 100% recycled paper

1515 SE Water Ave, #102 PAID
Portland, OR 97214 PORTLAND, OREGON
Permit No. 599

Thank you River Givers!