We know the Willamette is healthier than it used to be. We also know it is still a long way off from providing the cold water and healthy habitat needed to support salmon and the other wildlife and birds we value here in the Willamette Valley. But until just a few years ago, we couldn’t say exactly how far off. Nobody had taken a comprehensive look at the data that researchers had been collecting for years to take stock of how the river was doing along its entire length.
We enlisted a team of technical experts to mine their data, vet it with each other and with scientists from the University of Maryland, and then use it to grade the Willamette on 15 different indicators of river health. The Willamette River Report Card, released in December 2015, offers a baseline assessment of the river’s health from headwaters to mouth, with specific scores for key vital signs such as water quality, habitat availability and presence of key fish and wildlife populations.
Overall, the river got a B-. Although this grade represents progress, it's diminished by staggering Ds and Fs in some key categories, such as temperature and safety of consuming resident fish. To raise the grade, we must sustain and build upon our existing efforts to improve river health.
Visit the report card website to learn more about specific indicators, see how your local river reach scored and learn how you can take action for river health.