InStream Conservation

A Beautiful River in Trouble


Beautiful River East Fork

This is a brief summary of the importance of a healthy East Fork Lewis River, where it flows, why it is special to citizens, tourism, economy, and recovery of our endangered steelhead and salmon, in Clark County and S.W. Washington.

The East Fork tumbles out of the high Cascade Mountains on its steep descent into the lower valley, where it joins the North Fork, near the Columbia River, 43 1/2 miles away.

Through the ages, sediments and rushing water have etched the riverbed into deep channels, pools and drifts, flowing through 4 spectacular falls; 8 ft. Sunset Falls at mile 32.5, Horseshoe Falls at mile 29.5, 10 ft. Moulton Falls at mile 24.5, and 14 ft Lucia, at mile 21.3. At mile 19, the river runs through a channel carved from solid rock and can be viewed from Heisson Bridge.

The river slows at Lewisville Park 4 miles below Heisson Bridge and continues to Daybreak Bridge and Park, at mile 1O.

In the 1980’s, fishermen came from far and wide to fish for huge steelhead (the state record, 32lb. 12oz. was caught here). Legend has it that these majestic steelhead were “shaped” by the many difficult falls they traversed, to spawn in these waters. Presently thanks to man, these fish are endangered and near extinction. Fishing is closed or severely restricted.

While fishing is no longer the magnet for tourists, the beauty of the falls remains.

Whitewater thrills for kayakers, trails for day hikers, river view pullouts, and well maintained park facilities for citizens and tourists, span the length of the river.

This is a “must explore” haven for locals and tourists.

Above is the good news of this valuable natural resource in Clark County.

Endangered River

However, all is not good news. The lower East Fork is in serious trouble!

In 2001, American Rivers, a national watchdog organization named the East Fork “one of the 10 most endangered streams in the U.S.”.

The Federation of Fly Fishers identified its “native runs of salmon and steelhead, one of the country’s most at risk, the result of damaging gravel mining”.

In 2006, two local organizations, Fish First and Friends of the East Fork, through much effort won what they hoped, was the final court battle against gravel miner J.L. Storedahl & Sons, to cease gravel mining in the East Fork floodplain.

In 2008, the Washington State Superior Court overturned the land use lawsuit. The gravel miner was back mining on the floodplain.

In 2010, a Federal Court ruled the basis for permitting the expansion of mining was flawed. Clark County should have withdrawn the Daybreak Gravel Mine permits. Presently stream conservation organizations are actively seeking legal solutions while working to restore habitat for East Fork ESA listed salmon and steelhead populations.

Endangered River Chart

Is there still hope?

3700 ft. restoration is in the Works!

After 5 years of habitat restoration, permit delays by government agencies and other organizations, an approved, budgeted restoration of 3,700 feet of the river bordering Daybreak Park, is in the works BUT RIGHT NOW that approval has been delayed once again.

This restoration, a vital part of the recovery of our endangered salmon and steelhead needs your support!

Daybreak Gravel Chart