Fish and Wildlife

Several people doing work on the rocks near Willamette falls.

For millions of years, tumwata/Willamette Falls has been a thriving natural environment for native fish, wildlife and plants. Restoration of the unique riparian basalt habitats and vegetation  will be key to the health of native fish, birds, amphibians and mammals.

Salmon and Lamprey Fisheries

The Willamette River is home to a wide variety of fish and marine wildlife. Chinook and coho salmon, sturgeon and lamprey are some of the main species found in the river.

People of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde have fished at the falls for generations, even after being forcibly removed from the area beginning in 1855. In 2018, the Tribe received a permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands to construct a fishing platform at tumwata/Willamette Falls. The scaffold allows the Grand Ronde Tribe to safely harvest 15 ceremonial fish at tumwata/Willamette Falls.

Pacific lamprey in the Willamette are also a culturally significant species to the Tribe. Tribal members have harvested lamprey at the falls for ages. More recently, the Tribe has been involved in efforts to help protect and conserve healthy lamprey populations.

Currently at the falls, there are very few places for native salmon to stop and rest outside of the main river channel given the hardened river’s edge at the site. Re-establishing the undulating character to the river’s edge and exposing the basalt channels that lie beneath the existing buildings will provide multiple alcoves and quiet resting places for migrating salmon and lamprey.

Supporting other wildlife at the falls

Though much of the natural habitat has been degraded and altered near tumwata/Willamette Falls, the area is also populated by a range of birds and wildlife

The Tribe’s restoration efforts at the falls will help improve habitats for all of the fish and wildlife who live or pass through here.