Watershed Stewardship

Since a watershed is an area of land where all the water from snow melt, rainfall, and irrigation drains into the same stream, everyone who lives, works and plays in the area shares the job of preserving and improving its quality for current and future generations. The Council is providing citizens and organizations local opportunities to engage in hand-on activities to improve the ecosystems in the Pudding River Watershed. The Council’s priorities lead us toward recovering robust native fish populations, restoring healthy streams and forests, and collaborating with diverse stakeholders. We are also focused on engaging the community, monitoring and assessing conditions, protecting areas from decline, and restoring impaired habitat.

1. Monitoring and Assessment

Pudding River Watershed Assessment

The watershed assessment characterizes the landscape, history, and its condition. Additionally, opportunities for restoration are identified. It was conducted by Adolfson Associates and Alsea Geospatial in 2006 according to the general framework described in the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board’s Watershed Assessment Manual (Watershed Professionals Network 1999). The document is a valuable resource for helping the Council prioritize its activities. The project was funded by Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.

Rapid Bio-assessment (RBA)

The RBA 2014 is a presence and relative abundance survey of juvenile salmonids in five major tributaries to the Pudding River. The RBA was conducted by Bio-Surveys LLC and funded by Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. Multiple objectives were established in the assessment: determine summer distribution by species, identify summer migrations to thermal refugia, describe relative abundance of species, establish baselines for monitoring future trends, identify key anchor habitats (rearing & spawning), and provide guidance for restoration planning. (RBA trask snorkel pic provided by Bio-Surveys and link to RBA documents)

Pesticide Stewardship Partnership (PSP)

Oregon’s interagency Water Quality Pesticide Management Team collaborates with local partner organizations to implement the Pudding River PSP. This program empowers local growers to problem-solve water quality concerns before regulatory agencies such Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Department of Agriculture are obligated to issue civil penalties. PRWC collects samples from Abiqua, Butte, and Zollner Creeks. The samples are analyzed for 78 currently registered pesticides, 43 non-registered pesticides, and 11 pesticide metabolites. In addition to monitoring pesticides in the waterways, PRWC collaborates with Clackamas SWCD and Marion SWCD to provide the agricultural communities in Molalla and Mount Angel free waste pesticide collection events. In Mount Angel, over 25,000 pounds of waste pesticides including 1,000 pounds of legacy pesticide material banned for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were collected this year. Stay tuned for the Molalla tally.

2. Protection

Drift Creek

Protection of the anadromous fish habitat accessible in the Drift Creek basin is undoubtedly the most contentious activity of the Council. The East Valley Water District is serving its members by seeking a supplemental water supply source. Unfortunately, their current dam project design does not include fish passage. Not only will fish lose access to cold water habitat, the proposal does not take into consideration those who would involuntarily lose their land due to the inundation on private property. Because the proposed dam will negatively impact both access to salmonid habitat and relationships in the community, the governing board of the Council chose to work with community members seeking to protect this area. (Images in drive are the map from EVWD’s website and Drift Creek provided by Bio-Surveys LLC from the Rapid Bio-assessment 2014)


The Pudding River Watershed’s eastern boundary runs through the northeast portion of the city of Molalla. According to the Molalla Area Historical Society, lumber production became the community’s biggest commodity after its founding. Timber remained the mainstay of the community’s economy until the 1980s.  Two large mills still operate today, as do several small family owned mills. Dozens of nurseries in the area produce a wide variety of seedlings, shrubs and plants for worldwide distribution; vineyards and wineries contribute to the local economy, and Christmas trees are a major export product. As a result of heavy industrial and agricultural pressure, there are legacy contaminants, such as dioxin in the landscape. The Council attends public hearings about toxic chemicals in waterways, provides public comments, and is advocating for the citizens by staying informed about the much needed improvements to the sewage treatment plant.

Rock Creek Focus Area

Lower Butte, Garret, Marquam, and Rock Creeks are located in an erosion-prone area. These creeks form a discrete focus in southern rural Clackamas County. Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District and PRWC are working together to improve water quality. We are reaching out to the community to find landowners who risk losing valuable topsoil to sheet erosion, and we are looking for streamside landowners who may already be losing acreage from scour erosion. Also, considering how many horses live in this part of Clackamas County, we invited Alayne Blickle, Horses for Clean Water, to present workshops that help horse owners learn about pasture management. Our goal is to reach landowners in the Pudding River Watershed and help them conserve soil and protect water quality. Technical assistance resources are available from Clackamas SWCD.

3. Restoration

Abiqua Creek Salmon and Trout Habitat Enhancement

The Council chose the Abiqua Creek site because it is identified in the Rapid Bio-assessment as having high restoration potential. By increasing the chance of survival of juvenile fish, we are increasing the likelihood that native cold water fish will continue to thrive in the Pudding River system. At present, restoration actions are focused on rebuilding instream habitat complexity by engineering large wood structures that mimic natural processes.  Stakeholders engaged in these actions are both public and private: The Abbey Foundation, Bob Qualey, City of Woodburn, Marion Soil and Water Conservation District, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Weyerhaeuser.

Silver Creek

The Council selected two acres belonging to the City of Silverton for a project that will improve streamside forest health. Keeping trees healthy in this area is important because cool water fish, such as salmon and trout, benefit from areas of shade in the warm summer months. The Council is working with JFranco Reforestation and volunteers to reduce the infestation of noxious weeds. After a couple of seasons of pulling ivy and slashing blackberries, native trees and shrubs will be planted. By establishing more native trees and shrubs, we are balancing the types of plants that occur at the site. When disturbed areas are left unchecked, only a few vigorous plants dominate the landscape.  Unfortunately after knocking back the top layer of ground ivy, another layer of complexity has been added to the project; a great amount of broken glass and rusting metal has been unearthed. Anecdotal information gathered suggests that the location was an unofficial historic dump site. The Council will collaborate with SOLVE and the City of Silverton to improve conditions at this location.

Wildcat Ridge Sanctuary

The West Cascades ecoregion historically supports dense Douglas-fir and western hemlock forests. When logging disturbs small tracts of private woodlands and reforestation efforts are unsuccessful, then invasive Scotch brome dominates the landscape. This site has become a team effort between Oregon State University Extension, Caretakers of the Environment International, and PRWC. This project is a long-term commitment for the new landowner and volunteers. Many hours of sweat-equity will be required to return this site to a thriving forest.

4. Engagement

Pudding River Watershed Council board members serve as the organization’s leadership. Members attend monthly meetings and represent a diverse range of stakeholder interests. They collaborate with community members to brainstorm and implement new watershed stewardship projects.

We invite you to serve on the PRWC board. With your input, we can better preserve the waterways themselves, as well as the fish, wildlife, and year-round recreation opportunities. This is a wonderful opportunity to help build the effectiveness of an important community forum for the protection of our shared natural resources.