Oregon's Hood River is a critically important salmon and steelhead stream that flows from the glaciers of Mount Hood into the Columbia River. Because its headwaters rise on the shaded north-facing slopes of Mount Hood, the river is vital from a cold-water perspective, providing refuge for numerous cold-water fish species. In fact, the Hood sustains the most diverse assemblage of anadromous and native fish species in the entire Columbia River Basin. Chinook and coho salmon, winter and summer steelhead and rainbow, cutthroat and bull trout all inhabit the river. Since 2010, when the utility PacifiCorp removed Powerdale Dam on the lower river, the Hood has also been entirely free flowing, with no dams to impede passage for fish or alter the river’s natural course.
Knowing the vital importance of this unique river, Western Rivers Conservancy has been working to protect the Hood for well over a decade. In 2006, we made our first acquisition in the Hood River Basin, a 20-acre property centered around Punchbowl Falls, the river’s scenic crown jewel and a popular recreation spot immediately above the confluence of the East Fork and West Fork Hood Rivers. We followed up that purchase in 2010 by acquiring an adjoining 83 acres surrounding the confluence itself.
Following a decade of hard work, WRC finally realized a vision held by Hood River Valley residents for more than 100 years: a public park at Punchbowl Falls. In spring of 2016, WRC transferred the combined 102 acres of land surrounding the waterfall and the confluence to Hood River County for permanent protection. The county is now developing Punchbowl Falls Park in order to protect the site and manage it for low-impact public use.
With Punchbowl Falls and the confluence now permanently conserved, WRC continues its effort to protect other reaches of the Hood River. Our vision is to restore salmon, steelhead and wildlife habitat along nearly 20 miles of the mainstem and key tributaries, conserving the most natural reaches of the river corridor for the sake of the area’s unique fish and wildlife and for the people of Oregon to cherish and enjoy.
Critical support for the Hood River Project has been provided by American Whitewater, David and Lyn Anderson, Autzen Foundation, L.P. Brown Foundation, Bullitt Foundation, The Burch-Safford Foundation, Clark-Skamania Fly Fishers, The Collins Foundation, Rocky and Julie Dixon, Cecil and Sally Drinkward Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, Fly Fishers Foundation, Lisa Hansen, Jackson Foundation, Rob Nimmo and Linda Jensen, Betsy Jewett, Jubitz Family Foundation, Randy and Leslie Labbe, Jack and Lynn Loacker, Nancie McGraw, Mason Charitable Trust, Jack and Kate Mills Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, Mount Hood Meadows, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Meyer Memorial Trust, The Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Parks Foundation Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, PacificCorp, Pacific Power Foundation, Portland General Electric, Saling Foundation, Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust and Ann and Norb Wellman.