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Projects include temperature monitoring, DNA analysis and fish-passage barrier assessment

With all the publicity about the preparation for the removal of Kellogg Dam, it might be easy to overlook the fact that other noteworthy events are happening in North Clackamas watersheds.COURTESY PHOTO MACKENZIE BUTLER - Amy van Riessen, NCWC watershed restoration manager, is up to her waders in Kellogg Creek. Information from the study of the water levels here will be used to calibrate the hydraulic model that will be used when designing the Kellogg Creek Restoration and Community Enhancement Project.

Amy van Riessen, the watershed restoration manager for the North Clackamas Watersheds Council, is currently working on three science projects, all funded by the PGE Salmon Habitat Support Fund. These include a temperature-monitoring study, a DNA study and a fish-passage barrier assessment.

Although van Riessen only started as watershed restoration manager for NCWC last January, she has been working in habitat restoration since 1999.

"My background is in biology, with a focus in fish and wildlife management, and I have worked in salmon restoration in both the rural areas of Eastern Oregon and the urban areas of Sacramento, California. I'm excited now to focus my energies in the North Clackamas watersheds," she said.

Temperature monitoring

For this project, van Riessen is conducting a temperature-monitoring study of all the watersheds that fall in the North Clackamas management area; that includes Kellogg-Mt. Scott, River Forest, Boardman and Rinearson watersheds.

"We installed 28 temperature loggers from May to October to see how different parts of the watersheds are impacted by high summer temperatures," she said, noting that high water temperatures can be lethal for fish that are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, including salmon.

"We can help keep summer water temperatures cold by planting and maintaining wide native vegetation buffers along our creeks and rivers for shade, by providing opportunities for summer stormwater to filter into the ground as much as possible, and by keeping fallen wood in our creeks to create deep pools and force water back into the ground to cool through a process called hyporheic exchange," van Riessen said.

DNA study

Anyone who has watched a police procedural TV show knows that humans leave DNA behind anywhere they go; so too do aquatic species, as they shed scales, skin and mucus.

"Because of this, we are able to use special water filters to sample the creek water and detect what species are present within a certain distance," van Riessen said.COURTESY PHOTO AMY VAN RIESSEN - In this shot, Amy van Riessen, foreground, NCWC watershed restoration manager, and Mackenzie Butler, Interfluve consultant, are installing a water level sensor in Kellogg Creek to see how water levels change over a year.

She noted that for the study, she is sampling every 1,500 meters up the watershed and very three months for one year.

Then the filters are sent to a lab and DNA assays are conducted to detect the presence of salmon and Pacific lamprey DNA.

"By doing this we will be able to determine whether any salmon and lamprey were able to get over the dam and if so, what parts of the watershed they are using," van Riessen said.

"In the water impoundment behind Kellogg Dam, we will also be looking for DNA of western pond turtles and western painted turtles to determine if they are present. If they are, we will need to make sure that we consider their presence in the design process" for the dam removal, she said.

Fish-passage barrier assessment

Currently, van Riessen is conducting a fish passage barrier assessment in the Kellogg-Mt. Scott watershed.

"If any additional barriers are determined to be problematic, we will work with any interested landowners, public or private, to help raise grant funds to fix the barriers in a way that also meets the needs of the property owner," she said.

She noted that NCWC is not a regulatory agency, but rather a resource for private and public entities to raise funding and get restoration work done for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.

"If any landowners have potential barriers or restoration projects on their property, they are welcome to contact me and we can chat about how we can help them out," van Riessen said.

She added, "I am looking forward to utilizing the best science to ensure that we are managing these watersheds in a way that has the biggest impact for these species, while also benefiting the people in the community."

To contact Amy van Riessen, NCWC watershed restoration manager, call 971-347-5538 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about North Clackamas Watersheds Council, visit

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