Our vision for the Nichols Natural Area: engage, educate, and inspire the diverse communities of the Columbia River Gorge to turn a former industrial site into vibrant riverfront habitat.
The Nichols Natural Area is a living laboratory in the middle of the bustling Hood River waterfront. At Nichols, learning is not confined by classroom walls. Young students learn to plant trees and inventory bugs. They may solve the mystery of why the Black-crowned Night Herons nest in the Nichols Basin. High school students help plan restoration site and sample water quality. And students learn how imagination and the power of community can transform our river.
Columbia Riverkeeper holds a conservation easement to restore nearly three acres of a former industrial site on the Columbia River in Hood River, OR. Every person who visits the waterfront will see this high-profile site. The students and community members who help design, implement, and manage the natural area will gain pride and ownership by making a brownfield turn green.
This project can become a centerpiece for restoration in the heart of the Hood River waterfront. Riverkeeper’s leadership in creating an inclusive project and engaging diverse communities is just what we need to be successful.
Urban habitat restoration projects on the mainstem Columbia are few and far between. We have big dreams for the Nichols Natural Area. With the support of a volunteer Leadership Team, we are designing a hands-on habitat restoration and site plan to improve salmon habitat and protect water quality.
Hood River County is one of the most diverse places in Oregon, yet we struggle with equity and inclusion in environmental benefits and decision making. We are committed to a different model with the Nichols project. From targeted outreach to underrepresented communities to bilingual events to interpretive signs in English and Spanish, the Nichols project serves as model for inclusion.
The Oregon Community Foundation’s new report, Oregonians Mobilizing for Change, features a prominent case study on Riverkeeper’s Nichols Natural Area. (Case study starts on page 11).