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About The Clackamas River

The Clackamas River is made up of 16 sub watersheds and begins on the slopes of Olallie Butte, a High Cascade volcano. The river flows 82.7 miles from its headwaters (elevation 6,000 ft) to its confluence with the Willamette River near Gladstone and Oregon City (elevation 12 ft).

The watershed drains more than 940 sq miles or 600,700 acres. More than half of its length runs through forested areas over rugged terrain. The lower reaches flow through agricultural and densely populated areas. The watershed crosses two counties and includes federal land administered by the US Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), state land, and private land.

The Clackamas watershed is 72% publicly owned, 3% is tribally owned, and 25% is privately owned. The watershed can roughly be divided in half, with nearly all of the upper watershed in the Mt. Hood National Forest and managed by the USFS. In contrast, most of the lower watershed is privately owned. The area in between the national forest and the lower watershed includes parcels of land owned by private timber companies and the BLM.

The Clackamas River supplies high-quality drinking water to over 300,000 people in Clackamas and Washington Counties and is host to many productive farms and nurseries.

Portland General Electric (PGE) operates three hydroelectric dams on the Clackamas River mainstem:  River Mill (west of Estacada), Faraday (just east of Estacada) and North Fork (upstream from Faraday). These dams have adult fish passage facilities; Faraday and River Mill also have juvenile fish bypass facilities. The Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River has two dams, at Lake Harriet (23 miles east of Estacada) and Timothy Lake.

In 1988 Congress incorporated approximately 50 miles of the Clackamas River into the Federal Wild and Scenic River System. Four sections of the river are also designated as State Scenic Waterways. The purpose of these designations is to manage designated segments by protecting their outstandingly remarkable values and maintaining and enhancing the natural integrity of river-related values.

The watershed supports naturally spawning anadromous fish including steelhead, chinook and coho salmon, as well as lamprey eel, and sea-run cutthroat trout. It also provides important habitat for many wildlife species, both game and nongame, and offers a wealth of recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, white water rafting, kayaking, and hunting.

To learn more about the history of our watershed check out this video or watch Perspectives on a River – Clackamas River Basin Council

History of the Watershed

Perspectives on a River