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Sieben-Riverbend Side Channel Enhancement Project to provide more space for native fish species.

PMG PHOTO: KATE CUADRADO - The Clackamas River is an integral habitat for endangered native fish species before they mature enough to enter the ocean. The Clackamas River Basin Council has begun construction on a section of the Clackamas River that will provide increased habitat for juvenile fish. The project, officially titled the Sieben-Riverbend Side Channel Enhancement Project, will focus on expanding a 1,750-foot side channel of the river.

"The overall effort of all of the projects we're doing is to hopefully increase the survival rate of the juvenile fish as they move out," said Issac Sanders, the Clackamas River Basin Council restoration program manager.

The primary species the council is looking to support is chinook salmon as the push to get the fish off the endangered species list has been a goal of many conservationists since its addition in 1989.

"The recovery plan that we're working off of largely is the state's plan on how to get them delisted," Sanders said. "There are habitat goals in there, and we're working toward achieving those for our little piece of the puzzle, and the Clackamas is a very significant piece of that puzzle."

PMG PHOTO: KATE CUADRADO - The construction on the junction of the Sieben Creek and Clackamas River will last for an expected six weeks.In addition to expanding the side channels of the river, the project includes getting rid of invasive plant species, such as knotweed, and giving native vegetation more space to occupy along the riverbed.

The natural debris, such as rocks, sticks and wood, collected as the construction moves forward acts as a sort of "condominium" for the juvenile fish, according to Sanders. It provides a three-dimensional area that fish are able to swim and grow within before traveling into the ocean as adults. PMG PHOTO: KATE CUADRADO - The natural debris will provide a habitat for juvinile fish to grow.

Just upstream from where the Sieben-Riverbend Side Channel Enhancement Project is taking place, Portland General Electric was able to build fish passage infrastructure that increased the survival rate of coho salmon, meaning more fish coming through the Clackamas riverbed.

"We want to make sure that we're accommodating that increase in numbers by having a good amount of habitat available to them," Sanders said.

The nonprofit project relies on the cooperation of the surrounding residential community and recreationists on the water to make sure they can get the work done within the six-week period outlined. It is funded by the Oregon Water Enhancement Board through various local, state and federal grants such as the Focused Investment Partnership Implementation grant.

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