River Stories

Our river movement is made up of scientists, tree-planters, park rangers, construction workers, activists, educators, farmers and neighbors. Learn about the people, projects and places that make our movement a success.

Soul River fishing trip
Healing souls, nurturing diverse conservation leaders

Despite a growing awareness of the benefits of time spent in nature, surveys indicate young people, especially low-income youth and youth of color, are underrepresented in the outdoors. Through his nonprofit, Soul River Inc., Portland military veteran Chad Brown is determined to change those demographics.

Abraham Franco Willamette
Meet the elder statesman of the Willamette planting community

Abraham Franco has been restoring floodplain forests for so long, he frequently finds himself walking under the shade of forests he planted as twigs. Learn how his career took him from Cascade timberlands to the Willamette Valley, where he turns barren streamsides into lush habitats.

Willamette River ranger Scott Youngblood surveys the water from a boat.
Scott Youngblood, river ranger

For state parks, there are park rangers. For the Willamette River, there is Scott Youngblood.

As the Willamette River Greenway Ranger for Oregon State Parks, Youngblood is responsible for maintaining 2,800 acres of public land along the Willamette River. With a service area so vast, Youngblood says, "I hardly ever have two days that are the same."

Meichen Plumhoff
Meet the Willamette's restoration force

The Willamette River system's restoration crews are the muscle behind a massive effort to restore the basin’s waterways and the land that touches them, in turn benefiting federally-protected salmon, steelhead, and other native Willamette species. It's a muddy, exhausting job, and they do it well.

Harkens Lake planting
Growing a restoration economy

By joining forces to submit one large annual order for plants, Willamette Basin restoration groups tap into the wholesale nursery market, which saves money while providing a boost to area nursery businesses. Best of all: Bulk plant orders can be more specifically tailored to groups' needs, leading to more successful restoration.

Rio Laja Twinning
Finding common ground in the water that sustains us

A partnership between the Willamette and Mexico's Río Laja watershed has inspired new efforts to connect people with their watersheds. Learn how the partnership has yielded fruitful cross-cultural relationships between people with a common interest in protecting water and nurturing community.

McKenzie River Trust Executive Director Joe Moll
Joe Moll, McKenzie River Trust

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 Executive Director of the McKenzie River Trust, a big part of Moll's job is helping others see how much their everyday lives depend on a healthy river.

Portland Harbor
Seeking an equitable Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup

The Portland Harbor Community Coalition seeks a strong, fair plan that entitles those most harmed by the river’s polluted history to an equally outsized benefit from the cleanup. Meet three of the coalition's community organizers.

Floodplain restoration at Harkens Lake
Floodplain restoration at Harkens Lake

Gary and Steve Horning grow many iconic Willamette Valley crops on their family farm near Monroe, Oregon, including grass seed and hazelnuts. Recently the've added a different kind of crop to the list — native trees to restore a floodplain forest on their riverside property.

Steve Adelman, peony farmer
Steve Adelman, peony farmer and restoration ally

For all his adult life, Steve Adelman has been a peony farmer. After an unexpected phone call six years ago, Adelman found himself in the river restoration business, too. Learn more about Steve's story.