Sturgeon Lake Restoration Project

Dairy Creek Bridge
Dairy Creek Bridge

Sturgeon Lake on Sauvie Island provides important aquatic habitat for numerous fish and wildlife species as well as recreation opportunities for people. Columbia River dams and island levees restricted natural flow to the lake which increased sedimentation and the risk of the lake becoming an isolated body of water.  West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District and partners worked for decades to restore a stream system that allows natural flow from the Columbia River through Dairy  Creek channel into the lake and out the Gilbert River. This hydrologic connection will increase water quality in the lake and wetland. Past efforts to restore a direct hydrologic connection between Sturgeon Lake and the Columbia River were thwarted by a flood in 1996 that deposited sand and woody debris at the mouth of Dairy Creek and blocked the  flow of water from the Columbia River. The solution was to replace two failed culverts under Reeder Road with a new bridge, remove the sand and debris plug from the mouth of Dairy Creek, and create a permanent channel for low flow and high flow water levels, planted with native trees, shrubs, and grasses. After over a decade of partnership building, planning, fundraising, and engineering, and just over four months of construction, the Dairy Creek channel reopened to tidal flow between the Columbia River and Sturgeon Lake in November 2018.

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