Floodplain restoration at Bowers Rock State Park

Back-channel floodplains, sloughs, alcoves and tributary confluence habitats are vitally important for Upper Willamette River winter steelhead and spring Chinook populations along the main-stem Willamette. The fish use these quiet refuges in all stages of life to rest and feed, for shelter during high-flow events, and as nurseries for young fish. Woody structures, stream complexity, good water quality and cover from mature riparian vegetation are all necessary for these habitats to be productive. The lack of quality back-channel habitat is the main limiting factor for populations of these species on the Willamette.

In January 2016, the Calapooia Watershed Council completed the first stage of restoration on 20 acres of back-channel floodplain habitat at Bowers Rock State Park outside of Albany. They removed non-native species, especially highly invasive reed canary grass and blackberry, then planted 42,000 native bare-root shrubs and trees and willow stakes, as well as 140 pounds of native grass seed.

This project was funded by an initial $25,000 grant from the Habitat Support program, and a second $25,000 Habitat Support grant supported implementation of the first stage of the resulting restoration plan.

“Removing the reed canary grass and blackberry that was dominating the understory and replanting with native trees, shrubs and grass is the first step in improving the natural processes and ecological function of the riparian zone. Beyond just planting trees for birds and other wildlife, we are improving forage and habitat for fish in the backwater slough,” said Tara Davis, Calapooia Watershed Council Executive Director.

Located upstream from the Calapooia River confluence and adjacent to Bowers Rock State Natural Area, the site is an important target for restoration benefiting fish and other wildlife. With this first restoration project complete, the council and their partners are considering more potential projects at the site in the future.

For an additional $2.50 per month, you can directly support projects like this by adding Habitat Support to your renewable option. And if you act by August 31, you could win a $500 gift certificate to Evergreen Escapes!