We protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

The late Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse announced the formation of Columbia Riverkeeper on Earth Day, 2000. But currents run deeper than 2000. Columbia River United, led by Greg and Cyndy DeBruler, formed in 1989 in the Gorge, and Congresswoman Furse started Clean Water Columbia in Portland in 1997. The two groups merged to create one voice to protect the mighty river: Columbia Riverkeeper.

Below are snapshots of Riverkeeper over the years.
columbia river united
Flowers over nukes

Upon learning that a nuclear reactor would be shipped to Hanford up the Columbia: “A group of us decided to hold a protest on the Hood River bridge as the barge passed below. About 150 windsurfers, local citizens, and Native Americans gathered and threw flowers on the Coast Guard gunner ship as it passed. We monitored the radiation level and found it to be quite high.”

2000 festival poster

Reggae star Jimmy Cliff performs at Riverkeeper’s Columbiana RiverFest.

Greg DeBruler on the riverkeeper boat, 2002
Riverkeeper patrol launched

Greg and Cyndy DeBruler launched the pollution patrol boat, along with new attorney, Brent Foster.  

don't weaken our water quality standards, photo of baby at rally
Clean water please!

When Oregon DEQ tried to weaken our water clarity standards at industry’s behest, Riverkeeper and allies turned to cute kids and strong legal arguments to protect clean water. 

lorri with adopt a river volunteers
Adopt-a-River and monitoring launched

Riverkeeper has trained hundreds of volunteers, from Cathlamet to Wenatchee, to sample for pollution.

Brent Foster and Linda Meanus

Fifty years after The Dalles dam inundated Celilo Falls, Riverkeeper partnered with Celilo Village to create a photo exhibit honoring the mighty falls and the people who fished there.  

2010 Brandwood LNG victory
Bradwood LNG victory!

We stood with farmers, fishermen, and inspiring activists to protect the Columbia River estuary from a destructive gas plant. This signature victory set the tone for future fossil fuel campaigns.

PGE, Boardman
Dirty Coal-Fired Power Plant Shut Down

Legal victory to shut down Oregon’s only coal-fired power plant in Boardman, Oregon.

2011 free white salmon
The White Salmon runs free

Not many campaigns end with a BANG. The Condit dam on the White Salmon River in south-central Washington blocked salmon for 100 years until a huge community effort and a little dynamite freed the river.

2011 greg with fish
Oregon adopts nation’s best toxic limits

Working with Umatilla and other tribes, Riverkeeper pushed Oregon to adopt the nation’s most protective limits on toxic pollution in fish. Other states will follow. 

2014 brett on camera being interviewed
Coal, oil, and dams, oh my!

First, we stopped coal export when Oregon rejected a dock-building permit. Next, after Riverkeeper sued, the Army Corps agreed to reduce toxic oil discharges from large dams. Finally, we protected 800 acres of farmland and riparian forest along the Columbia River at Port Westward.

Highlights on the fossil fuel front

Portland passed a landmark Fossil Fuel Resolution; we exposed oil refinery plans in Longview, WA; Oregon shut the door on coal export; and the estuary remained LNG-free.


Mosier, OR

On June 3, 2016, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation derailed, spilled, and burned. Government leaders paid attention and eventually rejected the Tesoro oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver, WA.

transmessis 1
A Community Unites to Stop an Oil Refinery

On February 23, 2016, the port’s commissioners voted unanimously to end negotiations with Waterside Energy. 

coal victory poster by nina montenegro
Millennium coal victory

Big Coal came to town, and you sent it packing. After six years of hard work, we defeated the Millennium coal terminal in Longview, Washington. 

Protest, Olympia, Washington, 1 million voices against coal and oil, photo by Kristi Nakata
January 2018
Big Oil denied

Tesoro sought to ship over 131 million barrels of oil per year down the Columbia River. On January 9, 2018, the Port of Vancouver voted to end Tesoro's lease and Washington Governor Jay Inslee rejected the proposal on January 29, 2018.

Salmon leaping over Lyle Falls, photo by Peter Marbach
December 2019
Victory for Salmon

EPA must protect Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead from dangerously warm river temperatures.

PGE, Boardman
October 2020
Lawsuit Shuts Down Coal Plant

Oregon’s only coal-fired power plant officially shut down. You made this happen.

comunidades meeting, sept. 26, 2018
Comunidades is Founded

Comunidades was created by Latino parents, activists, educators, and other residents of the Gorge to address a need for a Latino-led environmental group. Columbia Riverkeeper is proud to be a fiscal sponsor. 

Coal Rally
January 2021
Dirty Coal in Bankruptcy

Millennium coal export terminal proposed in Longview, Washington, lost its rights to build along the Columbia.

No Methanol Mondays
January 2021
Washington rejects key permits for fracked gas-to-methanol refinery

Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) denied permits for a proposal to build the world’s largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery, citing significant negative impacts on our climate and the Columbia River.

Fall of Perennial Fracked Gas

Thousands of people signed comment letters and repeatedly told the State of Oregon that Perennial—and fracked gas— should not be part of our energy future.

Staff team photo
Plans for 2023
A Note from the Executive Director

We head into 2023 with momentum, and we set our sights high to tackle the pressing issues facing Columbia River communities...

Chief Joseph Dam
Grand Coulee, Chief Joseph Dams to Reduce Pollution

After a decade of litigation by Columbia Riverkeeper, all ten federally-owned dams on the Columbia and Lower Snake river finally have Clean Water Act permits.


Riverkeeper’s team includes scientists, environmental lawyers, and community organizers. We work to organize and empower local communities, enforce environmental laws, and build strategic coalitions. Our mission is to protect and restore the Columbia River and all life connected to it.