Sandy River

Sandy River Community Needs Assessment Project

The Sandy River needs you!

We are creating a new Sandy River Watershed Council. We hope you are interested in participating in the process, or have interest to support this effort.

The Community Needs Assessment Report 2023 is a compilation of the different ideas from the community based on recent community online survey and a series of focus groups. We’ve heard many voices, especially from underrepresented communities who have not participated in watershed council activities in the past.

Download the report by clicking this button:


Personal connection to the Sandy River watershed

Spending time with family, children and friends and engaging with the watershed through walking, hiking, fishing, hunting, and swimming were the most mentioned ways survey respondents and discussion group participants connect with the watershed. Connecting with nature, Indigenous cultural connection, and an overall appreciation for water were also mentioned often in discussion groups.

Importance of the Sandy River watershed

Most people who participated in this project said the Sandy River watershed is very important to them. In discussion groups, participants most often talked about the importance of the watershed as a source of clean and abundant drinking water, of vital importance to the survival of all things, and as an important place to connect with nature in many ways. A large majority of survey respondents said the Sandy River watershed is very important to them, and many felt the watershed was more important after learning more about it.

Vision for a healthy watershed

We asked discussion group participants about their vision for a healthy Sandy River watershed. They most mentioned: Indigenous leadership and use of the area, healthy wildlife populations including fish, and a clean environment for future generations.

Concerns about the Sandy River watershed

Water pollution was the most mentioned concern in discussion groups and was among the top concerns among survey respondents. In discussion groups, this pollution included trash and littering, pesticides, stormwater runoff, and contamination of the fish people eat. For survey respondents, protecting fish and wildlife and forest fires were also important concerns.

How do you envision connecting with the watershed in the future?

In discussion groups, the most mentioned was wanting to work to help protect the watershed. Among survey responses, cleaning up rivers and natural areas was also among the most selected. Also important were spending time alone in nature, spending time with others in nature, and learning about nature in the area.
Explore the Sandy River Watershed through this Interactive Map created by students at Portland Community College

The Sandy River is made up of many smaller rivers that begin high up on Mount Hood.  These smaller rivers flow through the land and join each other, eventually becoming the Sandy River.  People are connected to the Sandy River, the smaller rivers that flow into it, and all the land around them.  There are many forms of recreation and places to play in the area, as well as communities where people live and work.  The Sandy River and the rivers that flow into it are important for the health of our forests, salmon, and other wildlife.  The area has been important to Native peoples since time immemorial and is also important to people that have come to the area more recently.

From 1997 to 2021, the Sandy River Watershed Council, a non-profit organization, served to protect and restore the Sandy River in partnership with the local community and public agencies. The organization closed its doors during the Covid-19 pandemic due to financial difficulty.  Now, a team of community volunteers who served on the Board of Directors of the former Sandy River Watershed Council, with support from Multnomah County’s Water Quality Program, is seeking to form a new organization to continue the work to protect and restore the Sandy River.

We hope to create a new, exciting, and more inclusive and diverse organization, with input from the diverse community that plays, lives, or works in the Sandy River area.  Your input is very important to us.

For more information, or if you have questions about this project, please send an email to: water.quality[at]