Restoration along Oregon’s Willamette River Opens up New Opportunities for Business and Wildlife

The Alder Creek restoration site on Oregon’s Willamette River as construction nears completion in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Wildlands, Inc.)
The Alder Creek restoration site on Oregon’s Willamette River as construction nears completion in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Wildlands, Inc.)

Restoration along Oregon’s Willamette River Opens up New Opportunities for Business and Wildlife

October 13, 2015

Salmon, mink, bald eagles, and other wildlife should be lining up to claim a spot among the lush new habitat freshly built along Oregon’s Willamette River. There, a few miles downstream from the heart of Portland, construction at the Alder Creek Restoration Project is coming to a close. The reshaped riverbanks and restored wetlands are now ready for their new inhabitants.

This 52-acre project is the first habitat restoration effort for the Portland Harbor Superfund Site.  It was implemented to benefit fish and wildlife affected by years of industrial contamination in the harbor.

The property was purchased by Wildlands, Inc., a business that intends to sell ecological “credits” from this restoration project. The credits generated by this project are available for purchase to resolve the liability of parties who discharged oil or hazardous substances into Portland Harbor.   

Construction began in the summer of 2014. Hundreds of thousands of yards of wood chips were removed from the site and several buildings were demolished. A channel was excavated across the site, invasive vegetation was replaced with native plants, and wood structures were installed. Wildlife will now be able to enjoy sandy beaches, native vegetation, and large pieces of wood to perch on or hide underneath.  These features replace the saw mill, parking lots, and other structures that used to exist there. 

After a final breach of the earthen dam dividing the restoration site this September, water now flows across the newly restored area. Once additional planting is completed this winter, the project will officially be “open for business,” although some entrepreneurial wildlife are already getting a head start. Chinook salmon and osprey have already been seen seeking refuge and searching for food in the newly constructed habitat. 

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