Willamette River Initiative

Willamette River Initiative

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River People

  • Abraham Franco, 60, has spent a career replanting Oregon's lost riparian forests.

Abraham Franco has been restoring floodplain forests for so long, he frequently finds himself walking under the shade of forests he planted as twigs.

A veteran worker in Oregon's reforestation industry, Franco has planted millions of trees in our woods and wetlands. Learn how his career took him from Cascade timberlands to the Willamette Valley, where he turns barren streamsides into lush habitats.

Despite a growing awareness of the benefits of time spent in nature, national surveys of outdoor recreation participants indicate the community skews older, whiter and wealthier.

Through his nonprofit, Soul River Inc., Portland veteran Chad Brown is determined to change those statistics. Learn how Brown used a fishing trip on the Middle Fork Willamette River to share the healing power of rivers with veterans and underserved youth.

  • Planting crew member Meichen Plumhoff scans the landscape as she works to plant thousands of native saplings at Willamette Mission State Park. 

Armed with shovels, hard hats, and hip sacks full of native saplings, the Willamette Valley’s restoration crews are on the front lines of a massive effort to restore our waterways and the land that touches them.

Through a cross-border partnership with Mexico’s Río Laja watershed, the Willamette River restoration community is finding opportunities to share knowledge, learn from international peers, and collaborate on projects to benefit both watersheds.

Meet three community organizers working on behalf of Portlanders to secure a strong, fair plan to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site. For Rahsaan Muhammad, Mary Ann Warner and Irina Phillips, the fight for environmental justice is deeply personal.

The Willamette is a long way from Kentucky and even further from Asia. That’s where Joe Moll spent much of his time getting to know and love rivers before making a home in the Willamette River basin. Now, as the Executive Director of the McKenzie River Trust, a big part of his job is helping others see how much their everyday lives depend on a healthy river...

For state parks, there are park rangers. For the Willamette River, there is Scott Youngblood. Scott is the Willamette River Greenway Ranger for Oregon State Parks, responsible for maintaining 2,800 acres of public land along the Willamette River. Some days, that means going out in a boat to survey invasive weeds on the riverbanks. Other days, like when I met up with him, it means taking a chainsaw to a massive fallen tree to clear a boat ramp...