Partnership Tracks Debris in Columbia Estuary

Efforts are underway to track and map the location of marine debris in the Columbia River estuary, the online Columbia Basin Bulletin reports.

The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership is asking for help in identifying small to medium scale marine debris in the lower Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the river’s mouth, in order to map the area and develop plans for cleanup.

Debrah Marriott, executive director of the partnership, notes that marine debris can be adversely affect fish and wildlife habitat, water quality and human safety.

The small to medium scale debris the organization wants to identify includes everything from small abandoned boats and large tires to old machinery, and anything else that does not belong along or in the river.

The inventory the partnership is compiling does not track abandoned ships greater than 35 feet. Those are classified as derelict vessels and are tracked by the US Coast Guard and others. Through the first week of November, the partnership mapped more than 100 marine debris locations between Kalama and Portland. The intent of the project is to complete mapping for 146 miles of the lower river from Bonneville Dam to the Pacific Ocean, Marriott said.

The LCEP is part of the National Estuary Program, and the project is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Volunteers are also contributing their time and expertise, she said. Once the mapping and debris identification is complete, the partnership will work to secure funds, likely from competitive grants, to begin removal.

Marine debris can be reported on the LCEP’s website,

The LCEP was established in 1955 by the governors of Washington and Oregon and the EPA to provide regional coordination, advance science and get on-the-ground results in the Lower Columbia River and estuary.

The Columbia Basin Bulletin website is published independently by Intermountain Communications of Bend, Oregon.
Journalist Bill Crampton, editor, publisher and owner of Intermountain Communications, launched the entity in Bend, OR, in 1997 as an information services firm specializing in natural resource issues.