"There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it."
--Author & songwriter Charlotte Eriksson
The Sandy River Delta is a rich 1,500-acre biological treasure located at the east end of the Portland metropolitan area (exit 18 off I-84), serving as the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge.
Located at the confluence of the Sandy and Columbia rivers, the delta is managed by the United States Forest Service-Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area under a plan that calls for restoration of functional floodplain forest and wetland habitats.
The delta was formed by a lahar (volcanic mud/ash flow) that slid down off Mount Hood thousands of years ago. Lewis and Clark camped across the Columbia River from it, because they found the raucous song of hundreds of delta birds to be “horrid.”
A former deciduous forest, timber harvesting converted the delta to open pasture until 15 years ago, when the U.S. Forest Service started the restoration process with a goal of establishing native oak woodland habitat. With funding from the Bonneville Power Administration, Ash Creek Forest Management began eradicating a tangled mass of Himalayan blackberry, replacing the thorn jungle with over 200,000 native trees and shrubs.
Delta visitors have now witnessed the transformation of 900 blackberry-choked acres into a diverse forest of native vegetation, one of the largest deciduous forest restoration projects in the region.
In 2013, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Portland Water Bureau removed a dam that had blocked the Sandy River’s East Channel since the 1930s, re-establishing the delta’s braided channel system for the first time in 80 years and reconnecting over one mile of main-stem channel with the Columbia River.
The Sandy River Basin Watershed Council took on delta restoration four years ago, and new partners, such as Confluence, Friends of Trees, and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, have expanded work to include community planting days where volunteers of all ages spend mornings placing trees and shrubs in the delta uplands. One planting day, a crew from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee showed up. They were spending their spring break, they said, “restoring the country.”
Walks to the Maya Lin Bird Blind are also part of these festivities. To participate in the next planting day, mark your calendar for Saturday, November 5.
In 2015, the watershed council launched the Delta Environmental Education Initiative, drawing 300 students for a full day of immersion into Native American cultural values, history and natural history.
This year, to continue moving restoration and education efforts forward, the watershed council is looking to Citizen Science. Grants from Oregon Wildlife and The Oregon Zoo are funding turtle surveys and the construction of fences to keep people and pets out of sensitive turtle nesting areas. And the Sandy River Delta is fortunate to be a stop on a little something called the Portland-Vancouver Regional Eco-Blitz Series.
The Blitz is On: Earth Day at the Sandy River Delta!
The Sandy River Basin Watershed Council, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, is offering the first ever Sandy River Delta Eco-Blitz on Saturday, April 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The Eco-Blitz pairs community members with species identification specialists to inventory the biota of the Sandy River Delta, a focus of regional conservation efforts.
Teams of identification specialists, families, students, teachers and other community members will work together to find and identify as many species of plants, birds, amphibians, insects, mammals and other organisms as possible in one day, using the iNaturalist smart phone app to record observations.
We’ll host morning and afternoon outings, with morning groups meeting at the delta at 9:30 a.m. to receive training, and surveying from 10:15 a.m. to noon. The afternoon groups will gather at 12:30 p.m. for training, then inventory from 1:15 to 3:00 p.m.
Plenty of snacks and drinks will be available for all participants.
To register as a volunteer for the day, visit our online registration.
SANDY RIVER DELTA ECO-BLITZ
When: April 23, 2016, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Sandy River Delta Park in Troutdale, Oregon. Take exit 17 off Interstate 84, and look for the Eco-Blitz signs to guide you as you arrive. No charge to enter the park.
For further information, please contact Jesse Holt at firstname.lastname@example.org or (971) 361-6890.