Wednesday, June 29, 2016

C4C - the last of them!

Christmas Trees At River Island South
By Michael D. Ellis

On June 11th, volunteers from the Tualatin Valley, Clackamas, and Wild North Coast chapters of Trout Unlimited, the Northwest Fly Fishers, as well as volunteers from the Clackamas River Basin Council, the Clackamas Watershed Council, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife met at the River Island South Metro Project on the Clackamas River to enhance habitat for juvenile coho salmon by placing used Christmas trees in the backwater area. In attendance were Dave Tenney, Clackamas chapter TU; Zach Bergen, Clackamas River Basin Council; Bill Monroe, Clackamas Watershed Council; Ben Walczak, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; Phil Hager, Northwest Fly Fishers; Doug Ray, Wild North Coast chapter TU; Mike Gentry and Michael Ellis, Tualatin Valley chapter TU.

We met at the parking area and hiked down to a landing above the site, where Zach had a table of snacks and coffee! Zach filled us in on the site.....
and what needed to get done and we set off to start placing trees. This site is an old rock quarry which was reclaimed by the river in the 1996 flood. This produced some very large backwater areas which make nice habitat for coho fry. Metro has taken over this property and has been doing a huge amount of restoration work, adding large woody debris in the water, planting native species and controlling invasives. Our small woody debris addition provides a missing component to the aquatic ecosystem and without our introduction it just doesn’t get there in the volume it used to.
It was a fine day for working outside. The weather was cool and a bit overcast. These trees were all bundled so the first order of business was to start removing the twine. As several folks were doing that, the others began hauling the trees to where we would place them. The trees were tied with biodegradable twine to large wood or to stakes driven into the ground. We placed several hundred trees along the shore. They will provide great habitat for small fish and other aquatic organisms.
We wish to extend a big thank you to Metro for their restoration activities at this site and for supporting the placement; thanks also to ODFW for staging the trees and supporting the effort. Also much appreciation to the Clackamas River Basin Council and Zach Bergen for coordinating volunteers and especially for bringing coffee!
It was a joy to be able to help out with this project and a reward to see Christmas trees being used to enhance coho habitat on the Clackamas River. The work has just begun however; many thousands of trees could be placed in this site alone. We hope and encourage anyone who is interested to volunteer. There are thousands of trees that end up the Christmas season by being burned or chipped and they are available for the asking but it takes some real work to utilize them. You can join our volunteer email list and be informed of upcoming conservation and restoration activities by emailing