Healthy Streams Program

Program area map

Program area map

The Healthy Streams Program provides full funding, project planning and technical assistance to landowners for streamside restoration to improve water quality, wildlife habitat and the condition of the land. Current target areas include McCarthy, Abbey, and Rock creeks in the West Hills, and canals and ditches on Sauvie Island.  The objective along McCarthy, Abbey and Rock creeks is to restore habitat for salmonid fish, enhance wildlife corridors, and improve water quality for all.

Riparian buffers provide many services, such as the following:

  • A vast majority of wildlife species, including birds, amphibians, mammals and pollinators use them for migration, cover, reproduction, nesting and forage.
  • Cool, shaded water for salmon, other native fish and the aquatic invertebrates that feed them
  • Their diverse network of plant roots help minimize soil erosion
  • Noise buffering, privacy and visual beauty
  • Increased land values and landowner enjoyment
  • Reduced property taxes when enrolled with Multnomah County
  • Livestock exclusion from streams, which can include wildlife-friendly fencing

The objective of the Healthy Streams Program on Sauvie Island agricultural land is to improve water quality and reduce invasive plant species, tillage, and livestock use that occur directly adjacent to waterways, which contributes to erosion and sedimentation. Beyond the Healthy Streams program, we provide technical assistance managing riparian areas.

WMSWCD will pay to install and establish self-sustaining native woody and/or herbaceous plant “buffers” – depending on landowner and wildlife objectives.

Bird nest in planted Western red cedar tree at McCarthy Creek Project

Bird nest in planted Western red cedar tree at McCarthy Creek Project

Benefits include:

  1. Stemming the loss of land and canal widening caused by erosion
  2. Taking up excess nutrients before they enter surface of groundwater
  3. Creating or enhancing important wildlife corridors
  4. Fencing to protect livestock from falling into canals

As of 2015, in McCarthy Creek alone – a particularly high priority watershed, the District’s Healthy Streams Program has restored  1 and 3/4 mile of stream, planting more than 20,000 native trees and shrubs in more than 10 acres of riparian area.

Across watersheds, the program has helped restore a total of 6 miles of stream, to date, and planted some 55,000 native trees and shrubs in approximately 32 acres of riparian area on 30 different landowner sites.

View the Healthy Streams Program Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Annual Accomplishments

Quick-to-establish native plants, such as willow and red osier dogwood, are installed along the stream's edge to stabilize the bank and minimize erosion.

Quick-to-establish native plants, such as willow and red osier dogwood, are installed along the stream’s edge to stabilize the bank and minimize erosion.

Here are some great publications for managing streams and riparian areas:

Healthy Streams brochure

Tips for Streamside Landowners in Multnomah County

Guide for Using Willamette Valley Native Plants Along Your Stream

Riparian Tree & Shrub Planting in the Willamette Valley

Managing invasive blackberry in riparian areas

Farm Manure Management

For more information on the Healthy Streams Program, contact Senior Conservationist Kammy Kern-Korot at or 503.238.4775, ext. 108.


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