State of the Greater Yamhill Watershed

Greater Yamhill Watershed Issues

There are a number of issues affecting the Greater Yamhill Watershed’s lands and waters. Historical practices and current land use management are contributing to poor water quality and fish habitat. Most of the watershed’s streams and associated riparian vegetation and floodplains are suffering from multiple symptoms that indicate poor watershed health. In addition, nearly all of our historic wetlands, grassland prairies, and Oregon oak habitats have been removed or degraded due to settlement and development.

Local Priorities for Streams and Rivers:

High Water Temperature: Stream water temperatures are too hot to be healthy for our native cold-water salmon, trout, and other aquatic organisms.

Low Water Levels: Reduced water flows restrict stream habitat and increase water temperatures.

Disconnected Waterways:  Culverts for road stream crossings can be barriers to juvenile or adult fish movement; stream channels are disconnected from floodplains, which reduces fish habitat and erodes banks.

Contaminated Runoff: Contaminated water from urban, rural, agricultural, and timber, and other land uses contribute to poor water quality.

Simplified Streams: Streams have lost complexity that contributes to high quality fish habitat due to reduced amounts of large wood in streams, land uses affecting the width and quality of streamside vegetation, and the active floodplain.

Invasive Weeds: Invasive weeds are non-native plant species that can cause ecological or economic harm. Invasive weeds impact the entire watershed, from farms and forests to urban areas and backyards. In streamside areas and floodplains, invasive plants replace native plants and degrade habitats.


Local Priorities for Historic Grassland Prairies and Oak Savannas

Long-term Protection: The Greater Yamhill Watershed has the largest concentration of these historic habitats in the Willamette Valley. Safeguarding these historic habitats for future generations is a key priority, which can be accomplished while maintaining and preserving the vitality of our working farms and ranches.

Habitat Enhancement: Improving degraded grasslands and oak savannas can be significantly more cost-effective (and successful) as compared to restoring these habitats where they no longer exist. Key priorities are enhancing existing habitats in partnership with public and private landowners who have an interest in long-term protection activities, such as conservation easements or safe-harbor agreements.

The GYWC has programs, volunteers, and community partners dedicated to improving the watershed by addressing local land and water priorities.  To learn more about our programs that are making an impact on these concerns, visit the What We Do  section of the website, and find out how you can take action and make a difference