Watershed Councils are locally-based non-profit organizations charged with the implementation of Oregon’s salmon habitat restoration strategy. See Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.


Mega coho
The Oregon Plan was created to restore populations of coastal coho salmon that were listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 1998. The Tillamook Bay Watershed Council was created by Tillamook’s Board of County Commissioners the same year. Since then, coho appear to have rebounded by a small margin. And in 2014, Tillamook Bay experienced an impressive return of coho salmon, including this super-sized male.


One of the most important restoration actions that watershed councils perform is the placement of large-wood structures in streams. Often these are places where wood was removed to “clear” the stream channel, or where there is no possibility for natural wood recruitment due to a lack of suitable riparian forest.


Mill-Bear Culvert Interior 2017
Restoring fish passage where it has been blocked by undersized or failing culverts is another major focus for our Council. In 2014 we worked with the Tillamook County Roads Department to place this pipe, which is large enough to include a “simulated stream bed” inside. In the fall of 2016 Chinook salmon were seen spawning in the culvert.


Sorting babiesFB
The rivers and streams of the Tillamook Bay system are natural fish factories producing spectacular numbers of baby salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. Here biologist Derek Wiley counts young-of-the-year coho (left) and Chinook (right) from the South Fork Trask River as part of ODFW’s Life Cycle Monitoring Program.



salmon in the trees
Have you ever seen salmon hanging from the trees? It’s a fairly common sight in Tillamook after a high-water event in the fall or winter.


Spring Chinook salmon are the most prized of all fish in the Tillamook Bay watershed, though they are not the most numerous. Of the estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Chinook salmon that return to Tillamook Bay, only 15-20% are spring-run. Adult “springers” return to the Wilson and Trask rivers from April through July and spawn in September and October. That means they must have plenty of cool water to survive the warmest months of the year.


Hoquarton Slough in downtown Tillamook is a beautiful and accessible example of rare Sitka Spruce swamp habitat.


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Fall Chinook salmon are Tillamook Bay’s claim to fame, averaging 20 pounds and reaching upwards of 60 pounds.


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Sunrise at Memaloose Point, where the Trask and Tillamook Rivers meet.


Black rockfish
Black rockfish are common along the jetties where the bay meets the ocean.


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Winter steelhead are magnificent sea-going rainbow trout that inhabit every tributary to the Tillamook Bay system.


Wading the Trask River on a chilly winter’s day.


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Another focus of our Council is providing opportunities for the public to experience the effects of habitat restoration. Here volunteers refer to a watershed map during a summer tour of the Killam Creek Habitat Enhancement Project. See Explore Nature


A fiery sunset lights up the clouds over Cape Meares on a wet fall evening.