The Willamette River
Flowing nearly 200 miles, the Willamette River is a thread that pulls together more than 70 percent of Oregon's population.
It's where we live, where we work and where we play. It's a resource that sustains wildlife, fuels recreation and drives commerce. For 10,000 years, people have relied on the Willamette River.
Though the river is and has been a great provider, its resources are limited and its alterations are many. Historically, this once wild river was several miles wide in places, but since the 1850s, the Willamette has experienced changes to its flow and been disconnected from its backwaters and side channels.
These connections are critical, as they help keep drinking water clean, aid in flood control and provide habitat for native fish, including the threatened Chinook salmon.
The Nature Conservancy in Oregon is working with many partners to protect and transform our state's river. We are reconnecting historic side channels and restoring floodplain forests and grasslands—all with the hope to make the Willamette a healthy "living river" that benefits both nature and the people connected to it.
Over the next 5 years, the Conservancy will restore 630 acres of floodplain habitat, plant 240,000 trees and shrubs and restore 3.5 miles of side channel habitat.
This work on the Willamette is just one of the ways the Conservancy is protecting Oregon's freshwater resources. We're working across the state—in places like the Klamath Basin and Rogue River Valley—to restore wetlands and protect groundwater resources.
And, because of the Conservancy's global reach, staff and partners are able to share lessons learned here in Oregon that help guide river restoration across the world.
As a Freak of Nature, you're protecting Oregon's iconic rivers and lakes and supporting the science that restores our planet's freshwater. That's pretty freakin' cool. Thank you.
It takes this much water to grow the beans needed for one cup of coffee.
Wetlands around the world provide goods and services to people worth an estimated $70 billion a year.
Oregon is home to the fourth-largest U.S. river (based on volume): the Columbia River. It is 1,243-miles long with an average flow of 265,000 cubic feet every second.
It takes this much water to grow a day's food for a family of four.
It's Oregon's River
About two-thirds of the population of Oregon lives within 20 miles of the Willamette River. The Willamette ties our communities together.
Our Beloved Chinook
Since the 1850s, alterations to the Willamette River have disconnected it from its backwaters and side channels. These connections are critical, as they help keep drinking water clean, aid in flood control and provide habitat for native fish, including the threatened Chinook salmon.
Conservancy Board Member and Willamette Valley Resident Scott Chambers has a strong connection to the Willamette River. "People have been living in the valley, on this mountain, along these creeks and rivers for hundreds of years. I believe we should leave the land better than we find it. And, there are a lot of opportunities to do that."
The Willamette River
Floodplains are the areas adjacent to rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans that undergo periodic flooding. They serve many purposes, such as carrying nutrient-rich sediments, providing habitat for wildlife, recharging groundwater and protecting water quality. The Nature Conservancy and the McKenzie River Trust are restoring connections between the Willamette River and historic floodplain channels on former gravel sites.
240,000 Trees & Shrubs
Over the next 5 years, the Conservancy will work at the Willamette River Confluence to restore 630 acres of floodplain habitat, plant 240,000 trees and shrubs and restore 3.5 miles of side channel habitat.