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About the Project

Sturgeon Lake, on Sauvie Island, is a key stopover and critical link in the Pacific flyway for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds and serves as a winter refuge for juvenile salmon on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Tens of thousands of people utilize Sturgeon Lake for sport and recreation every year. Today these significant wildlife and human benefits are at risk as this wonderful resource slowly disappears into mud.


Siltation is a process by which a water body becomes clogged with sediment. An “open” lake is one in which water is constantly flowing out. Siltation is much less likely in an open lake system. Although Sturgeon Lake is open, siltation is still taking place because there’s only one way for water to enter and exit the lake.The tidally-influenced water that flows into Sturgeon Lake daily via the Gilbert River drains back out the same way and so slowly that the sediment suspended within it is settling out and accumulating. The average depth of Sturgeon Lake in 1941, before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the levee system on Sauvie Island, was six feet. Today it’s half that.


A second connection to the Columbia River would help water move in and out of Sturgeon Lake more rapidly. That connection, called the Dairy Creek channel, exists but isn’t currently functioning. The mouth of the creek, at its confluence with the Columbia is plugged with sediment from the 1996 flood and the culverts upstream, under Reeder Road, are undersized and failing.

The Dairy Creek channel was constructed by the Corps of Engineers in 1989 to serve as a second Sturgeon Lake outlet. Unfortunately the channel didn’t function as intended and is effectively closed to the Columbia River except during very high water events.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with local support, is restoring the Dairy Creek channel connection to the Columbia River. Failing culverts under Reeder Road will be replaced with a single spanning structure designed to maximize water flow. The sediment plug at the mouth of Dairy Creek will be removed and the entire channel reconstructed using a two-stage design; a smaller “low-flow” channel will keep velocities up and prevent sedimentation while a “high-flow” or flood channel will allow for the maximum movement of water during high water events. A log boom and “eddy control” structure will be installed proximate to the mouth of Dairy Creek to help keep sand and floating material out of it.


Oregon Wildlife Foundation is working with West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, the local sponsor of the Sturgeon Lake project, to raise the funds needed to restore the lake's connection to the Columbia River. With the generous support of the Wessinger Foundation, Hilltop Foundation, King Family Fund at Oregon Community Foundation, and other private donors the match requirement for Corps funding has been met and we’ve now almost reached our fundraising goal for replacement of the culverts under Reeder Road with a single spanning structure! Please watch our video, donate, and share this critically important project with your family and friends.

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