The North Umpqua River, Oregon

Find out what PRC has planned for the future of this Legacy River, and keep informed of our progress

North Umpqua early morning fog
Photo by Dan Callaghan

The North Umpqua, which is Pacific Rivers Council's premier Legacy River, is one of the lower 48's most biologically rich, and relatively intact watersheds. To learn more about this global gem and the new model for watershed protection PRC is creating, please read about the Legacy Rivers program, the Legacy Rivers themselves, and our list of Legacy River Candidates across the Northwest.

PRC and The North Umpqua Foundation have teamed up to convene a panel of scientists and economists to provide expert resources to help inform, inspire and guide our work. Through this Science Advisory Council, we bring new resources and fresh thinking about what it takes to save a river. We bring a richer understanding of the importance of the deep mountain aquifers and nutrient-and sediment-filtering forests that sustain the North Umpqua's flow, and its beauty. Our partnership can help local agencies and landowners secure new funding and technology, and foster communications among citizens, landowners, governments and tribal communities. In our vision for the river, communities and livelihoods are preserved, while we do what it takes to let nature quietly get on with her job of blessing the land with cool, clear water and abundant fish and wildlife.

Science Advisory Council:

Jack Stanford, Ph.D.,
Director and Bierman Professor, University of Montana Flathead Lake Biological Station

Terry Roeloffs, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Fisheries, Humboldt State University

John W. Duffield, Ph.D.,
Research Professor, Department of Economics, University of Montana

Wayne Minshall, Ph.D., Professor of Ecology, Emeritus, University of Idaho

Jim Lichatowich, Fisheries Biologist, Alder Fork Consulting

Jeff Dose, Ph.D., USFS Fishery Biologist, Umpqua National Forest

Rand Eads, Consultant, RiverMetrics Consulting

The mighty North Umpqua is blessed with a natural resistance to climate change, both because it taps deep cold mountain aquifers, and because it threads through majestic forests that still flank much of the river and its tributary streams. These forests filter out sediment and chemical pollutants that come with disturbance of upland soils and vegetation, and they provide diverse habitat for fish and wildlife. Though the river is strong, history has shown us, and scientists remind us, that any river can be harmed, and its resilience sacrificed. Most rivers in North America have already been damaged beyond recognition by the thousand pinpricks of farming, forestry, and other land disturbances, the sprawling development and roads, loss of natural floodplains, the extraction of diversion of water, the barriers imposed by dams, and the alteration of the genetic heritage of the native fish by unsound hatchery and harvest practices.

PRC is working to develop a monitoring and reporting protocol to gauge the natural health and welfare of the North Umpqua River and watershed. The Vital Signs Program will report on temperature and other habitat conditions, indicators of wild fish population status, and indicators of land and water use and watershed condition. These metrics will convey critical information about both the status of and threats to the river, and its resilience in the face of climate change over time. This information will be available to all.

John Kober and Lee Spencer, TNUF
Lee Spencer from The North Umpqua Foundation and John Kober from PRC at the Steamboat Inn. June, 2009. Photo by Chris Frissell, PRC

It's all too easy to assume, without really checking, that preserving the environment conflicts with local economic interests. PRC is dedicated to changing this perception. Economists tell us loud and clear the truth is that environmental protection and economic vitality go hand in hand. The North Umpqua stands as a beautiful example of the broadly shared social and economic benefits that flow from healthy rivers. PRC is working with economists to account more fully for the many environmental and social benefits that already accrue from resource protection policies benefiting the North Umpqua, its water and fisheries. We are working hand in hand with federal agencies to get more dollars and expertise on the ground to restore North Umpqua watersheds, water quality and fish habitat. We will work with private landowners and citizens to support sustainable forestry and watershed management practices, and we will help train skilled forestry workers in the practice and business of watershed restoration.

Because what's good for the river is good for you. And because a river that has flowed for a million years is the most lasting legacy we will leave to our children and grandchildren.

For more about the environmental benefits of conserving natural habitat, please read  a consensus statement from a workshop addressing the role of economics in critical habitat designations, held by PRC and partners in October 2007.

Recent Actions Taken By PRC in the Umpqua Watershed:

 

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