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Fixing roads for fish and people in the Umpqua

Guest Author, Marlies Wierenga, WildEarth Guardians

Almost in the center of Douglas County Oregon sits a town of nearly 2,000 people called Glide. A unique phenomenon occurs in Glide and nowhere else in the world – two rivers collide head-to-head into each other. The Little River flows up from the south and the Umpqua River, flowing from the east, takes a sharp bend and meets the Little River at almost a straight angle. Swirling eddies and rapids in the crystal blue waters are mesmerizing.

colliding rivers LittleMountain5
Photo by Little Mountain 5

But we are not here to (only) watch two rivers collide. Cathy, from the Geos Institute, and myself, from WildEarth Guardians, came to learn how the Umpqua National Forest is working to keep the river clean and clear. More than half of the residents of Glide depend on drinking water drawn from the Umpqua River. Investing in measures that keep water clean at the source is a common sense strategy for keeping water treatment costs down and protecting public health. Though the upstream forested lands with towering Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock seem like great water protectors, it is the thousands of miles of roads criss-crossing the forest that can cause the greatest risk to Glide’s drinking water.

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Awards announced for 2017 Drinking Water Providers Partnership funding

The Drinking Water Providers Partnership has announced its grant award recommendations for 2017. In its second year, the Partnership is supporting a mix of twelve planning and implementation activities that will benefit 28 different water systems and 877,000 people who rely on these streams and rivers for their drinking water.

Aging infrastructure, increasing environmental challenges, and a growing population are all putting our region’s drinking water at risk. The Drinking Water Providers Partnership (The Partnership) is a public-private coalition that funds local efforts to ensure healthy rivers can continue to provide clean and affordable drinking water to communities throughout Oregon and Washington.

Over half of all Oregonians and 1/3 of Washingtonians get their drinking water from rivers and streams.

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From Forest to Faucet: Upper Rickreall Creek Watershed Enhancement

rickreal helicoptor It’s September in western Oregon and a helicopter whirrs overhead. A 32” diameter Douglas-Fir log is tethered from the helicopter’s underside with a heavy cable. On the ground below, a crew of workers are directing the swinging log’s placement into Rickreall Creek. But why all the effort to bring in helicopters to drop logs into a creek? Bounded on both sides by private and federal timber lands, this section of Rickreall Creek is part of a much bigger effort to improve water quality and recover the health and productivity of the entire Rickreall watershed.

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Baker City and Forest Service Work to Protect Drinking Water

Guest Author, Marlies Wierenga, WildEarth Guardians

Sipping my Pallet Jack IPA at Barley Brown’s brewery on an early September evening, I didn’t put much thought into the primary ingredient of the beer – water. Me and my fellow brewery companions just enjoyed our beers. Having won many awards, Barley Brown is known for its beer. Located in historic Baker City, Oregon – locals and travelers converge to raise pints and swap stories.

Baker City Sign

It wasn’t until the next day, when I began listening to Michelle Owen and Jake Jones from the City of Baker City and Robert Macon and Kelby Witherspoon from the U.S. Forest Service describe the drinking water watershed that the connection was made in my head. Seems silly given that I was in Baker City as a member of the Drinking Water Providers Partnership. The partnership was formed to help restore and protect the health of watersheds which communities depend upon for drinking water while also benefiting aquatic and riparian ecosystems. One way we achieve this is through an annual grant program. In late 2015 Baker City applied for, and received, a grant to help purchase and install fencing in their ongoing effort to protect their drinking water source area. It’d seem obvious that I would consider water while drinking beer, but like most people, I often take clean water (and good beer) for granted.

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Eleven municipal watershed restoration projects underway in Oregon

In its inaugural year, the Drinking Water Providers Partnership provided funding to eleven watershed restoration projects that will protect or restore drinking water quality and native fish habitat in the Pacific Northwest.

In November 2015 the Partnership issued its first request for proposals - the first of its kind offered by a public-private partnership specifically for watershed restoration that benefits both native fish and drinking water supplies in the Pacific Northwest. The Partnership received twenty applications from Oregon and Washington, adding up to $792,362 in requested funds and was able to help support eleven of these, all in Oregon.

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