The land area along the south bank of the Lower Columbia River and just east and upriver of Astoria has always been a community. Before the highway and the railroad were built this community was connected by the River. The mostly Scandinavian farmers also worked in the woods as loggers and on the river as fishermen. Their lives were closely in tune with the natural cycles of the great River.
Modern transportation brought change to this community. Small farms were replaced by suburban housing, which in turn supported the needs of a growing work force. This work force was employed throughout the area, but especially in the rapidly developing land just west of the community – which stretched from the coastal town of Seaside to the city of Astoria. With this change, brought the weakening of the community’s identity, one that had always been bound by the River.
However, as some community connections weakened others strengthened and were renewed. The Nicolai-Wickiup Watershed Council is part of that renewal. Longtime residents, concerned about declining fish populations and changing landscapes, established a watershed council to help steward the area from Twilight Creek to Hunt Creek.
This land area is made up of a series of small streams flowing into the Columbia River Estuary with valleys that contain residents, small farms and hobby farms. The communities of Burnside, Svensen, Brownsmead, and Knappa are in the settled areas. The small farms of the lowlands are mostly devoted to raising cattle with almost no working fields. The uplands of the watersheds are mostly owned by timber companies or the state and are managed for timber. Since the early days of settlement these uplands have been logged at least three times.
The Watershed Council completed the Nicolai-Wickiup Watershed Assessment in 2001 hiring E&S Environmental Chemistry. The assessment gives an overview of the basin, provides good historic context and highlights areas for potential restoration.
Read the Nicolai-Wickiup Watershed Assessment