Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc.

The Willamette River Steelhead Project
Description and History



The Willamette River Steelhead Project is a long-term monitoring, research, education, and environmental enhancement project. Focus is on the condition and health of Portland, Oregon's riverine plant and animal populations and of its rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams.  The City's anadromous fish populations, including the endangered run of Willamette River steelhead, and local impacts to surface water qualities of the Columbia and Willamette rivers are given particular emphasis.

This Project  addresses local and regional concerns about threatened and endangered fish populations, potential toxicity of local food and sportfish species, and the quality of local surface waters.  Student academic and employment opportunities are being created to better inform the public about these important issues and to help make decisions regarding the management of common cultural and natural resources.

The Project is currently based at Jefferson High School and may include paid summer work for Portland-area students in the fields of environmental sciences, internet communications, and/or public education.  Students will work with classroom teachers, local professionals, and scientists to obtain current information about endangered fish populations, river water quality, fish toxicity, etc.  Student findings will be used to satisfy academic requirements and will be reported to the general public via periodic news releases, televised reports, and the School's internet website.  The program is scheduled to run at least three years and contains strong components for self-monitoring, evaluation and possible replication in other Oregon and Columbia River basin schools and communities.


The Willamette River Steelhead Project was first proposed in April, 1998 by Bob Zybach and Wayne Giesy of Oregon Websites and Watershed Project, Inc. (ORWW), following discussions and consultations with Principal Opal Chancler-Moore and Vice Principal of Curriculum Kevin Bacon of Jefferson High School.  The proposal was sponsored by ORWW, a 501 c(3) corporation based in Philomath, Oregon.

The proposed project is based on models successfully completed by the sponsoring organization and its principals during the past 10 years.  The Alberta Street Project used a seven person team of Jefferson-area student interns in 1992 to produce a formal Cultural Resources Inventory with recommendations for an Alberta Street neighborhood in N/NE Portland.  The PEAS Project demonstrated that internet communications were an effective way to publicly display K-12 student projects with an environmental sciences focus.  PEAS also demonstrated how five rural Oregon schools could efficiently establish a sophisticated Internet communications network with little cost in time or other resources to local school districts.  A focus of the Willamette River Steelhead Project will be to expand on these earlier projects to include modern technologies developed since 1992, and to include an urban component to the rural communications network established in 1997.

The recent listing of the Willamette River Steelhead population as a threatened species by the Federal government and the current "Superfund" listing of the River's Portland Harbor demonstrate the timeliness of this proposal.  We now have a project in place that can effectively involve Portland area students in the long-term study, evaluation, and resolution of these common problems.

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This page created July 27, 2000. Updated March 12, 2001.
©2000, 2001 -. Oregon Websites and Watersheds Projects, Inc.