Willamette Falls Legacy Project—Habitat Assessment and Design

Located in Oregon City is Willamette Falls, the second largest waterfall by volume in North America. This iconic landform serves as a transitional point for migratory species and an important cultural site for Native American harvest of Pacific lamprey. Since the 1800s, the basalt cliffs surrounding the Falls have been developed for industrial uses, including power generation and paper mills. When the last of the mills closed in 2011 a consortium of interested parties seized the unique opportunity to bring the Falls back to the people. The four core values developed by project stakeholders to guide restoration and redevelopment of the 22-acre former paper mill: (1) historic and cultural interpretation, (2) public access, (3) healthy habitat, and (4) economic redevelopment. 

In service of the Healthy Habitat core value, Stillwater and CH2M teamed to assess baseline conditions and develop restoration concepts for the Willamette Falls Riverwalk Master Plan. The work centered on the key elements of riparian habitat, native fish habitat, water quality, and floodplain protection.  Stillwater’s ecologists and geomorphologists spearheaded the Baseline Habitat Report and Habitat Restoration Conceptual Design with the key underlying concepts of protecting and enhancing habitat for wildlife, botanical resources, and fish species including Pacific lamprey and ESA-listed salmon populations. Stillwater also served as technical experts and provided outreach to the community at numerous public events throughout the development of the Master Plan.

 

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An aerial view of Willamette Falls and the former paper mill site in Oregon City (photo courtesy of Metro).

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