In 1987, the Governor’s Watershed Enhancement Board (GWEB) was created, with the passage of SB 23, to provide grant funds for innovative and demonstrative watershed restoration and education projects. Funding was provided through lottery dollars ($500,000 per biennium). Most of this funding went to individual landowners and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts to implement projects on private lands.
In 1993, Oregon’s local watershed management program formally began with the passage of HB 2215. This called for the formation of local, voluntary watershed councils to conduct watershed assessments, develop and implement watershed action plans and monitor watershed health. Funding increased to $10 million per biennium.
In 1993, a small group of Tualatin watershed agency and government representatives began meeting to discuss formation of a watershed council. They recognized the need to minimize watershed impacts and develop local solutions in a comprehensive manner. For over two years, the group met to determine membership, create a vision and mission, develop by-laws, and formulate goals and objectives.
In 1995, HB 3441 brought local watershed council programs under the guidance of GWEB. Local governments were given the responsibility of designating watershed councils.
In February 1996, the Council was officially recognized by the Washington County Board of Commissioners (R&O 96-32) with representatives of the following stakeholder groups: citizens, agriculture, business and industry, environmental, forestry, education, local governments, chambers of commerce, and water and sewer providers.
In March 1996, the Council applied for a grant from GWEB to hire a full-time professional coordinator. It received funding for one year and in May 1996, hired a full time coordinator. The Council and Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) signed a Memorandum of Agreement that established the SWCD as the fiscal agent and employer of record for the Council.
In 1996, the Council secured its first restoration grant. It was a Metro grant to begin restoration work in Moonshadow Park. This park is located along Ash Creek, which is a tributary of Fanno Creek. The 3.5 acre park is made up of 2 acres of riparian area and 1.5 acres of upland area. The area was infested with large patches of non-native invasive plants such as Himalayan blackberry, English ivy, and bittersweet nightshade. The project entailed major weed removal and extensive native plant installation. There were several more projects done in this park in subsequent years.
In July 1997, the Washington County Board of Commissions approved an amendment to expand the Council membership list to include a commercial and recreational fisheries category (R&O 97-104).
In 1997, the Council adopted its first strategic plan. This directed the Council’s work over the next years.
In 1998, Oregonians passed Ballot Measure 66, providing significant funding for watershed restoration. GWEB was reconstituted to become the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB). The work of the Councils supports the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. The Oregon Plan’s mission is to “restore our native fish populations and the aquatic systems that support them to productive and sustainable levels that will provide substantial environmental, cultural, and economic benefits.” The Oregon Plan embodies collaborative, community-based conservation, which is a very different approach from the previous government agency driven planning. Funding was set to end in 2014. Passage of Measure 76 in 2011 extended funding beyond 2014.
In January 1999, the Tualatin River Watershed Council adopted the Tualatin River Watershed Action Plan — a long-term vision on how to improve water quality, improve fish and wildlife habitat, minimize soil erosion, minimize flooding, and increase recreational opportunities within the Tualatin River Watershed. The Action Plan takes a watershed-wide approach and strives to integrate existing plans and efforts. Implementation of the Action Plan involves various council partners, organizations, and other private and public stakeholders.
To assist with development of the Action Plan, the Council convened a Technical Assistance Committee (TAC) comprised of scientists, consultants and government officials with expertise in environmental science, biology, wetlands ecology, soil science, water quality, engineering, wildlife habitat, and hydrology. The TAC met periodically to review and evaluate existing information, identify problem areas, and recommend actions to the Council. They produced a document that contained this information, Tualatin River Watershed Technical Supplement, 1998 (21 MB).
Between 1997 and 2002, the Council completed five watershed assessments of the main Tualatin River basin and the sub-basins: Upper Tualatin – Scoggins Watershed Analysis, 2000; Gales Creek Watershed Assessment 1998; Dairy McKay Watershed Analysis 1999; Middle Tualatin Rock Creek Watershed Analysis 2001; Lower Tualatin Watershed Analysis 2001. These assessments compiled existing information on historic and existing watershed conditions, such as soils, channel types, aquatic and terrestrial species and human impacts. They provided recommendations for types of actions that would benefit the watershed(s).
Other Council projects during this time included: a two year fish populations and habitat study in rural segments of six tributary streams Distribution and Abundance of Fish and Measurement of Available Habitat in the Tualatin River Basin OUTSIDE of the Urban Growth Boundary 1999 – 2001; a culvert survey on Gales Creek; and a multiple-partnership project, the Citizen Photo-Point Monitoring project, in which volunteers were recruited and trained to monitor 22 restoration sites within the Tualatin Basin.
In 2002, the Council entered into an agreement with the US Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to conduct the mitigation work for the Scoggins Dam project. Under this agreement (BOR Contract), the Council receives $30,000 per year for studies, project planning, education, outreach, and implementation of projects that do not require in construction work.
In 2003, the Council made the decision to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation in order to provide additional opportunities for project funding. This ended the SWCD’s role as fiscal agent and employer of record for the Council. The Washington County Board of Commissioners recognition of this change in status in May 2004 (R&O 04-101).
The Council and its partners first used the BOR Contract to identified and analyzed a stream segment that would benefit from stream habitat enhancement to improve conditions for threatened winter steelhead, cutthroat trout and other fish species. It completed this study, Lower Gales Creek Habitat Enhancement Plan, 2003 on a four-mile reach of Gales Creek. The Council is currently in the process of implementing recommendations in the study.
In 2004 the Council initiated a new partnership with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). They were developing a new OPRD park called L.L. ‘Stub’ Stewart State Park which contains 1,654 acres and the headwaters of West Fork Dairy Creek and three of its tributaries. They asked the Council to identify limiting water quality issues in the park and propose solutions. In 2005, the Council coordinated a culvert assessment of 28 culverts located in the park to ascertain which culverts were fish passage barriers. The culverts were analyzed and prioritized using funding through an OWEB technical grant in 2005 for a stream study of West Fork Dairy Creek. The survey provided recommendations to improve stream habitat as well as an analysis for the removal of two obsolete culverts located within the state park.
In 2007, the Council obtained an OWEB restoration grant that, together with OPRD funding, enabled the removal of two obsolete culverts and placement of over 200 logs in a 1.1 mile reach of West Fork Dairy Creek (located on both public and private lands) to improve habitat for native fish. A helicopter was used to place the logs in the stream channel.
The West Fork Dairy Creek Project was completed in autumn 2007. The large wood placement increased the number of pools by 30% and increased the depth and size of existing pools.
In 2004, the Council continued its work with partners with restoration, maintenance and monitoring activities at Moonshadow Park. This 3.5 acre park is located on Ash Creek, a tributary to Fanno Creek. This is one of most urbanized areas in the Tualatin basin.
The Council recognized its upcoming tenth anniversary in May 2005 with A Watershed Event-2005. It highlighted through displays presentations, hands-on activities and tours, the role watershed residents play in maintaining and improving watershed health and how various Council groups and partners are helping. There were also special children’s activities including a story teller.
It provided a forum for Council stakeholder and partners to tell their individual stories of their watershed-wise practices in the basin. The event also invited Tualatin River watershed residents to learn how they can do their part to improve watershed health and become watershed stewards!
The afternoon featured self-guided tours including the wildlife refuge, a plant nursery a small woodlands and a restoration project. The event was held at Jackson Bottom where participants were encouraged to tour the grounds.
The Council and its partners completed a stream matrix, which prioritizes stream reaches throughout the basin. This tool provides information to both the Council and Council partners on which stream reaches to concentrate restoration efforts.
During 2005-07, the Council reviewed its Action Plan with an emphasis on identifying “gaps” in implementation. The Assessment of Action Plan Implementation as of 2007 resulted in project work focused on projects in the Fanno Creek sub-basin, East and West Fork Dairy Creek sub-basins and Gales Creek sub-basin.
During 2005-06, the Council completed several studies in a five-mile reach of Gales Creek to enable it to design recommended projects from the Lower Gales Creek Habitat Enhancement Plan, 2003 . These studies included Lower Gales Creek Enhancement Planning Geomorphic Assessment; Lower Gales Creek Enhancement Plan Knotweed and Ivy Mapping and Report, 2006; and Gales Creek Large Woody Debris Inventory, 2006. During summer 2007, working with a Gales Creek landowner, a Council consultant designed a project that creates additional floodplain area, provides wetland areas for native amphibians and adds large wood structures on the floodplain to provide scour and pools for native fish (Sahnow Project). Funding for the studies, project design, was from the BOR Contract.
The Council and its partners presented a June 2006 Invasive Weed Workshop with a half-day classroom session and afternoon field session. Funding came from the BOR Contract.
In 2006, Gales Creek activities included working with a private landowner to remove a fish passage barrier culverts/road crossing and installing a bridge on Bateman Creek, a Gales Creek tributary (Bateman Creek Project). Our partners included the private landowner, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and OWEB.
April 2007, the Council and its partners presented a Gales Creek Watershed Conference. There were morning presentations and poster displays and afternoon field sessions. Funding for this came from the BOR Contract.
The 2006 2007 TRWC Annual Report was the Council’s first annual report that chronicled its activities for the year.
Between 2005 and 2008, the Council worked with private landowners and ODFW to obtain funding and a design for a fish passage project that will provide access to an additional two miles of good spawning and rearing habitat located on Murtaugh Creek, a tributary of East Fork Dairy Creek.
The project included building five rock weirs to raise the stream bed which had incised downstream of a flashboard dam and was completed in 2008 (Murtaugh Creek Project). Our partners included the private landowner, ODFW, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), and the Salmon Habitat Fund.
In 2008 the Council adopted its second strategic plan, 2008 Strategic Plan . This plan continues to guide the Council’s implementation of its Action Plan. It resulted in the creation of three committees; restoration and enhancement, issues, and education to implement many of the components of the plan. The Steering Committee continued to implement the Council capacity issues.
The 2007 2008 TRWC Annual Report showcases the Council’s activities for this period of time.
Between 2008 and 2010, a five-mile area along Lower Gales Creek was enhanced by the addition of six habitat structures to the floodplain and stream, off-channel habitats were created and a 2.5 area riparian area was planted in native plants (Lower Gales Creek Habitat Restoration Project). The long-term plan focuses on connecting floodplains and improving in-stream habitat to help native fish and wildlife. Our project partners included a Gales Creek private landowner, the Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District, and OWEB.
The 2008 2009 TRWC Annual Report showcases the Council’s activities for this time period.
Between 2009 and 2009, a project placed 100 whole trees and logs in a one-mile stream reach of the North Fork Gales Creek. Hillsboro High School students planted the riparian area after the logs were installed. This increased in-stream habitat through creation of pools and scour. Our project partners included ODFW, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), OWEB, Stimson Lumber Co., and a Hillsboro High School class.
The 2009 2010 TRWC Annual Report showcases the Council’s activities for this time period.
In November 2010, Oregonians passes Measure 76 that extended OWEB funding beyond 2014 when it was previously set to end. There were changes in how the funds would be dispersed and who would be eligible. The assurance of long-term funding was a welcome relief to Watershed Councils across the state.
The 2010 2011 TRWC Annual Report showcases the Council’s activities for this time period.
During September 2010 the Upper Gales Creek Project placed 163 whole trees in a 0.75 mile stream reach in Gales Creek on ODF lands upstream of the confluence with the North Fork of Gales Creek. During September 2011, 67 additional logs/whole trees were placed in a 0.3 mile reach on ODF lands. This reach was above the original reach. A year after the logs were placed, contract crews replanted the riparian areas where the logs had been placed. The project retained spawning gravels in both stream reaches and increased in-stream habitat through creation of additional pools and scour. Our project partners included ODFW, ODF, and OWEB.
The Council decided to do biennial reports on the years that coincide with the OWEB Council Support grant periods. In the interim years the Council will do mini annual reports.
The 2011 2012 Annual Report showcases the Council activities for this time period.
During September 2012, a project was implemented in a one-mile stream reach of Clear Creek in a portion of the watershed owned by the City of Forest Grove. Clear Creek is a tributary of Gales Creek. Lack of channel complexity for spawning and rearing habitat for native winter steelhead trout, Pacific lamprey and non-native Coho salmon was addressed by placing 86 logs in 14 selected areas of the stream. This created pools and scour. An obsolete concrete stream structure was removed to provide passage for juvenile fish. A small graded riffle was built at the Clear Creek intake structure to provide easier access to the Clear Creek fish ladder for migratory adults. Our partners in the project were the City of Forest Grove and its watershed manager, Trout Mountain Forestry, and OWEB.