Wetlands in the Oregon Closed Lakes Basin provide livelihoods for farmers and ranchers, and critical habitat for a large diversity of bird, plant, and amphibian species. These wetlands are fragile and threatened by multiple stressors in this arid landscape of south-eastern Oregon. Numerous users compete for the limited water supply. Invasive species, particularly common carp, reed canary grass, and perennial pepperweed, have taken over many of the wetlands and surrounding areas. The complex infrastructure used to irrigate and manipulate water levels in the basin has deteriorated costing the community greatly each year. At the same time, the Closed Lakes Basin may be facing a changing climate that will deliver less water to an already arid environment.
A vision for the future is needed to help decide how to deal with invasive species, competing needs for water, and the future prospect of a changing climate and potentially diminished water supply. TWC is working with partners in the Harney Basin Wetland Partnership to develop new solutions to combat invasive carp, preserve important bird habitats and maintain traditional flood irrigation practices. This will assist public and private land managers as they are struggling with the balance between providing critical water bird habitat and producing nutritious forage for livestock.
The Deschutes Basin lies just east of the Cascade Range and at 10,000 square miles it is the second largest river basin in Oregon. It is also one of the most diverse in the State, encompassing portions of five eco-regions: Cascades, Eastern Cascades, Northern Basin and Range, Blue Mountain and Columbia Plateau. While portions of the Basin receive large amounts of snow, the landscape is generally defined by its arid nature. Wetlands account for less than 2% of the Basin, most of which are associated with riparian corridors along rivers. The relative scarcity of wetlands makes their protection and restoration important to watershed restoration efforts.
TWC’s Deschutes Wetland Inventory Project was created to support the development and implementation of collaborative approaches to wetland conservation and restoration. This project incorporates a broad spectrum of perspectives, resources, funding and processes for implementing the plan. Currently, many of the projects are being implemented by The Deschutes Basin Land Conservancy, Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and Deschutes River Conservancy.
The Yaquina Estuary Conservation Plan prioritizes the conservation needs and opportunities for the Lower Yaquina watershed from an ecological perspective, and promotes the selection of acquisition and restoration projects that address critical watershed and estuary processes, functions, and restoration opportunities. While previous plans for the estuary have focused most ly on water quality and fish, the Yaquina Estuary Conservation Plan provides an ecologically-based land scape analysis of lands currently under conservation, an analysis of estuary processes and functions, an d detailed recommendations for future conservation actions within the Lower Yaquina watershed. This report is accompanied by the 39-page Yaquina Estuary Conservation Plan Atlas that that conveys visually the many factors affecting the health and viability of the estuary.
The Scappoose Bay watershed, 85,000 acres in size, historically supported four of six species of salmon and a large proportion of the waterfowl and shorebird species found in the Pacific Northwest. Located along the eastern flanks of the Tualatin Mountains and the floodplain of Multnomah Channel, the watershed contains a broad diversity of habitats, ranging from small, steep mountain streams to the lowland floodplain of the Columbia River estuary.
TWC’s Scappoose Plan provides a prioritization and roadmap for conservation and restoration of wetlands and riparian areas in the lower watershed. TWC is currently updating the information and incorporating it into the Sauvie Island Conservation Plan.
The Youngs Bay Watershed is located near the mouth of the Columbia River in northwest Clatsop County Oregon. The Lewis and Clark River, Youngs River, Klatskanine River and the Wallooskee River are the dominant stream systems within the watershed. The Youngs Bay watershed is the largest watershed in the Columbia River estuary and once contained significant Sitka spruce swamp habitat as well as extensive estuarine marshes, freshwater tidal wetlands and bottomland riparian vegetation.
The lower watershed has undergone considerable modification from its former forested and wetland habitats. Grazing and rural residential development now dominate the area with many of the bottomlands sitting behind dikes that restrict daily tidal inundations. The upper watershed contains young and mature conifer forests that represent a diversity of forest types, associated with Pacific Northwest coastal forests. Much of the acreage has been cut more than once in these highly productive timberlands.
TWC’s Youngs Bay Watershed Conservation and Restoration Plan has assisted in prioritizing the conservation needs and opportunities for the Youngs Bay watershed from an ecological perspective. The plan identifies and promotes the selection of properties for acquisition and restoration that address critical watershed restoration issues. Since completion of the plan a variety of conservation groups have implemented some of the identified conservation and restoration activities.
Sauvie Island, adjacent to the Multnomah/Columbia River bottomlands and Scappoose Bay have long been known as major stopovers on the Pacific flyway. In the winter, thousands of geese and ducks and hundreds of sandhill cranes and swans as well as bald eagles fill the area. Neotropical migrants, including many songbirds whose populations are in decline, depend on the island as they travel through in spring and fall on their migrations. Many species of birds also nest on the island. The island is also home to Western Painted Turtles, four species of salamanders, two species of native frogs, beaver and other mammals and anadromous fish species.
The Wetlands Conservancy is developing a plan, to support large scale conservation and enhancement of this regionally important wetland and river complex, through prioritizing and identifying restoration needs and opportunities for Sauvie Island, Multnomah Channel and Scappoose Bay. The action plan can then be implemented by a diversity of stakeholders, resulting in improved watershed health and natural biodiversity viability of the area.