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Projects intended to focus on creating and improving native fish habitat on the Clackamas River

FILE PHOTO - Upcoming projects by the Clackamas Partnership will focus on improving habitats for native fish on the Clackamas River. The work will be funded by a grant from the  Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.

A group of 16 organizations focused on the Clackamas River has received an $8.7 million grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to be awarded over the next six years.

Established in 2015, the board's Focused Investment Partnership Implementation grant program awards funds to projects that focus on one of the board's ecological priorities, including the creation of habitat for native fish, which has been a focus of the Clackamas Partnership's work.

The grant is financed by the Oregon Lottery and federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery funds.

"The goal is to provide an assured level of funding over six years for high-performing partnerships so they can have sustained investments to do projects on the ground that move the ecological dial," said Meta Loftsgaarden, executive director of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.

The Clackamas Partnership consists of the Clackamas River Basin Council, Oregon State Parks, Clackamas Soil and Water District, Clackamas River Water Providers, Portland General Electric, Water Environment Services, Metro, Greater Oregon City Watershed Council, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, North Clackamas Watersheds Council, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Clackamas County Parks, North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

With the funding from the Focused Investment Partnership Implementation grant, the group plans to restore habitats for chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead and other native fish species in the river.

"There are a number of projects planned," said Cheryl McGinnis, executive director of the Clackamas River Basin Council.

McGinnis noted that work will be completed throughout the river and focus on improving side-channel habitats and complexity of habitats, as well as removing fish passage barriers.

She explained that side-channel habits are valuable because they create space with temperatures appropriate for fish during the winter and summer months.

For habitat complexity, wooden structures will be added to the water to provide a protected area for fish in which they can spawn.

The Clackamas Partnership was established in 2015, though many of the organizations had frequently worked together prior to that. McGinnis said she looks forward to continued collaboration as they work on projects funded by the Focused Investment Partnership Implementation grant.

"We're anticipating having a grander scope of what we're capable of doing," she said.

Loftsgaarden praised the group's focus on the Clackamas River.

"What they've done well is really focus on areas that matter the most for fish habitat," she said. "They've figured out what the Clackamas needs in terms of water, trees planted and side channels."

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