Lower Johnson Creek Habitat Enhancement

A recent NEDC Clean Water Act enforcement action against Ross Island Sand & Gravel helped fund a major restoration project this summer in Johnson Creek, a tributary of the Willamette River that flows into the mainstem Willamette River in Milwaukie, just south of downtown Portland.

Although the bottom mile of mainstem Johnson Creek is deficient in large wood, a critical component of healthy habitat for resident and anadromous salmonid species, thermal studies have found that Johnson Creek is cooler in the hottest part of summer than other nearby Willamette River tributaries, including the Clackamas and Molalla Rivers. Cold water refuges are critical for runs of coho and chinook salmon as well as resident cutthroat and steelhead trout.

The project involved blackberry removal, native vegetation planting, and placement of large tree rootwad structures in the streambed. Woody debris slows flood velocities, improves habitat complexity, and creates scour pools favored by fish.

“We’re grateful that NEDC chose our project for this funding,” said Daniel Newberry, executive director of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council. “It allowed us to complete this important project that provides cold water habitat for both Johnson Creek and Upper Willamette stocks of ESA-listed salmonids.”

Thanks to the Crag Law Center and the law firm of Kampmeier & Knutsen for helping us prosecute the lawsuit that helped fund this restoration project.