Leave it to Beavers

NE Oregon Hand Crew Initiative team members knee deep in water behind a BDA. Photo by Catalina Burch.

Patagonia celebrates the restoration work of TU’s Northeast Oregon Hand Crew Initiative in a new story and video

Each summer, the young adult members of TU’s Northeast Oregon Hand Crew Initiative spend weeks camping in national forests, restoring miles of trout and salmon habitat by building beaver dams and log jams, planting willows by hand and learning about leadership, watershed ecology and stewardship.

A NE Oregon Hand Crew Initiative team member at work building beaver dams. Photo by Levi Old.

Levi Old, TU’s NE Oregon restoration director, and our program partners, started this program to expand the scope of stream and meadow restoration work across several of TU’s Columbia and Snake River Basin Priority Waters. The Initiative is set up to train the next generation of river restorationists, ecologists and stewards.

Old partnered with the Northwest Youth Corps to staff the Hand Crew, and over the course of the past five seasons, numerous teams of young adults have spent weeks working and learning alongside TU staff in the headwaters of the John Day, Grande Ronde – Wallowa, and Imnaha River Basins.

Celebrating the Hand Crew’s Work

Last year, Patagonia sent writer Amanda Monthei, photographer Greg Mionske and videographer Cyrus Sutton out to Northeast Oregon to join the Hand Crew during their stint working in the headwater meadows of the John Day watershed to learn more about their work and the benefits for fish, water, tribal first foods, biodiversity and climate resilience.

The result was an inspiring new video featuring TU staff and Hand Crew members and an informative story on the Patagonia website highlighting this impactful program. Both turned out great. We thank Patagonia for helping us spread the word about this important program and celebrate the dedicated young adults doing the hard work to “think like a beaver.”

NE Oregon Hand Crew Initiative Partners

Over the past six years, the Hand Crew has worked and camped in the Umatilla, Malheur and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests and implemented work on private ranch lands.

After the NE Oregon Hand Crew Initiative spent two seasons working in the NF Cable Creek, an important tributary for steelhead in the John Day River headwaters, beavers returned to the site and used the restoration work to turn the valley back into a biodiverse wetland complex. Photo: Sam Bango, TU

Along with the NW Youth Corp, this work is made possible by partnerships with the US Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Grande Ronde Model Watershed Council, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and private landowners.

Learn more: View a map of the Initiative’s work locations in NE Oregon.

By Greg Fitz.