North Clackamas Watersheds Council looks to the future
So much is happening in watersheds in North Clackamas it is hard to know where to begin.
First and foremost, the Kellogg Creek Restoration & Community Enhancement Project field work began last month, which will ultimately lead to the removal of the Kellogg Dam and restoration of the area around it.
Then, Neil Schulman, the executive director of North Clackamas Watersheds Council, said that the Kellogg leadership team submitted a million-dollar grant to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to fund the dam-removal project through final design and into the beginning of construction activities.
Finally, NCWC recently adopted a 10-year watershed plan that is "the result of two years of science and stakeholder engagement on the most critical strategies for restoring our watersheds over the next decade," Schulman said.
He added that in early 2023, the community will be invited to participate in two activities involving re-cycled Christmas trees and one tree-planting event in Happy Valley.
If funded, the NOAA grant will pay for "the complete design of all aspects of the removal of the dam, the replacement of the 99E highway bridge and restoration of what is now the Kellogg Lake Impoundment," Schulman said.
"The impoundment will become, a 14.5-acre natural area; the design will determine exactly what that will look like," he added.
In addition, the grant will also fund the beginning of construction activities such as contracting, procurement, mobilization and growing the plants that will need to be planted in the future natural area that is currently the lake.
"The NOAA Fisheries funding is so important because the removal of Kellogg Dam, the replacement of the earthquake-vulnerable Highway 99E Bridge and the restoration of the new 14-acre natural area is a big, long-awaited project that both restores our environment and updates aging infrastructure," Schulman said.
It will be an expensive project, but "due to Congress passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, there is now an unparalleled, once-in-a-generation opportunity to do the project quickly," he said.
But even more than that, the project is exciting because the entire community will benefit, Schulman said.
"There are few opportunities to remove a dam and restore a river in a downtown, next to three parks, a light-rail station, a food-cart pod and across the street from a high school," he added.
10-Year Watershed Action Plan
The Watershed Action Plan is something that has never before existed in the area, Schulman said.
He described it as a roadmap that will identify the most impactful courses of action to restore the entire North Clackamas watershed, including the Kellogg-Mt. Scott, River Forest, Boardman and Rinearson watersheds, and the east bank of the Willamette from Meldrum Bar to Milwaukie Bay.
"For the past few years, we've been using our best judgement about what projects are most important," Schulman said.
"But the Watershed Action Plan brings together all the scientific data from fish biology, wildlife, plants, hydrology, geology, stormwater and water quality," he said.
He noted that added to the mix is community data like population trends and the projections about climate, and other factors to map out a more proactive plan.
"The priorities it sets will guide both the watersheds council and our partners, like the city of Milwaukie, North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District and others," Schulman said.
See below for highlights from the action plan.
Volunteers will be needed for three upcoming work parties in 2023.
Celebrate the new year from 9 a.m.-noon on Jan. 7 with a Christmas tree collection at North Clackamas Park, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive, Milwaukie.
Then, on Feb. 4, help install the recycled trees at Spring Park/Elk Rock Island, located at Southeast Sparrow Street at Southeast 19th Ave., Milwaukie.
For those who prefer to plant trees, Friends of Trees will hold an event at Mt. Scott Creek in Happy Valley.
Visit ncurbanwatershed.wordpress.com to register for all volunteer events.
Schulman said that the community should participate in these events because they are fun and they are also chance to do important work outside with neighbors.
He added that volunteer events are also an essential way that trees get planted, weeds get pulled and Christmas trees get used to provide salmon habitat.
The events also give people a chance to meet folks in the community, learn about natural areas and see how habitat restoration works, Schulman said.
More importantly, the volunteer events provide a way "to build an ethic of stewardship. Healthy streams are something we achieve together as a community," he said.
As the population of North Clackamas County is growing, "the future of Clackamas County will be determined by how well we integrate nature and healthy streams into our human community," Schulman said.
"We can do it poorly, or we can do it well. Kellogg Dam is a perfect example: it should have been removed back in the 1890s, when the flour mill it powered shut down. But it wasn't," he said.
Schulman added, "Now we have a chance to restore a healthy stream with salmon runs to a watershed where 160,000 people live. That's a dream opportunity. that doesn't come around often."
Highlights of NCWC's 10-Year Action Plan
• Plant a lot more trees near streams to provide shade and keep streams cool, especially in late summer, and maintain them so they don't get overwhelmed by invasives.
• Remove Kellogg Dam.
• Work with local governments to provide incentives and funding for addressing all the old "grey" infrastructure that pre-dates modern stormwater guidelines, so that rain run-off from roads and parking lots doesn't flow into streams without being treated.
• Focus on areas where streams can recharge groundwater, such as 3 Creeks Natural Area.
• Improve habitat complexity where streams meet the Willamette River.
• Plan projects so that the benefits of a healthy environment are shared by all, not just those who can afford streamside property.
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