Adopt-a-River: Support

Adopt-a-River Tools & Resources

Riverkeeper’s Support for Adopt-a-River Coordinators

Emergency assistance

If you ever see a large oil or toxic spill call 911! Never touch unidentified barrels or spills; back away immediately and call 911 for help. Document the date, time, place, what it looks like to you, and take photos – ask the authorities what response they will take, if any, and then please let Columbia Riverkeeper know what’s going on. You can use this Pollution Response Form to guide you.

Resource Guides

Learn about watershed health, the Columbia River Basin and major river threats to watch out for and possible actions to take. Adopt-a-River Guidebook – (en español).

Quarterly Habitat Assessment Guide

Use this Habitat Assessment Form to help guide your seasonal site visits. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself and send one electronically or snail mail to Columbia Riverkeeper. (Kid-friendly version)


Volunteers are encouraged to log plant and animal observations on iNaturalist, our primary method for sharing habitat data. It features both desktop and mobile platforms, and it can be used both with and without connectivity. If you are using a WIFI only device the app just needs to be synched upon re-connection. Create a login at and search for our project “Columbia Riverkeeper Adopt-a-River”. Be sure to log your observations under our project. For help with iNaturalist follow our instructions or visit The video tutorials are great!

Wildlife and Plant Species Guides

The better you know your local plant and wildlife species, the better you’ll be able to recognize changes at your site. We recommend bringing your favorite guidebooks out with you and committing to learn at least one new thing about your adopted site each visit. Take these basic field guides with you to help identify common trees, flowers and shrubs, animal tracks, birds, nuisance species, and invertebrates (insects). Some of our favorite field-guides are listed below. You may also consider participating in a field course with the Wilderness Awareness School or EarthWalk Northwest in Washington, Trackers NW in Portland, or a naturalist hike with Audubon or Friends of the Gorge.

Suggested Tracking Guides:

  • Animal Tracking Basics by Jon Young and Tiffany Morgan
  • Peterson’s Field Guide to Animal Tracks, 3rd Ed. by Olaus Murie and Mark Elbroch.
  • Mammal Tracks and Sign by Mark Elbroch
  • Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking by Tom Brown Jr.

Suggested Wildlife Guides:

  • Peterson’s Field Guide to Mammals, 4th Ed. by Fiona Reid
  • Northwest Arid Lands by O’Conner and Wieda
  • A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell
  • Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest by National Audubon Society
  • Birdsongs of the Pacific Northwest by Stephen R. Whitney and Elizabeth Briars Hart
  • The Forgotten Wilderness by Tom Brown Jr.

Suggested Plant Guides:

  • Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon
  • Wild, Edible, and Medicinal Plants by Tom Brown Jr.


Riverkeeper’s Adopt-A-River program provides a great opportunity for students to learn about river ecology and improve local habitat. Riverkeeper staff works with supportive teachers to introduce Adopt-A-River and demonstrate water quality monitoring both in the classroom and in the field. If you are teacher and are interested in getting your classroom involved with Riverkeeper’s Adopt-A-River program, please contact Lorri Epstein for more information. Riverkeeper has worked with over 1,500 students since 2006 at schools throughout the Columbia Basin including:

  • Klarhre House Alternative School
  • Mosier Community School
  • Hood River Valley High School
  • Lyle High School
  • H.B. Lee Middle School, White Salmon, WA
  • Joseph Meek Professional School
  • Vancouver Vocational Skills Center
  • Columbia Gorge Community College
  • Lower Columbia College
  • Corbett Middle School
  • Kennewick High School
  • Mt. Hood Community College
  • Wenatchee Valley College
  • Goldendale School
  • Klickitat School
  • Mill-A School
  • Whitson Elementary School, White Salmon, WA
  • And more!

Ongoing Project Support

Call Riverkeeper for technical assistance and project support. SOLV will provide trash clean-up supplies (bags, gloves, safety gear) as well as small grant assistance of up to $100 a year to supplement ground project expenses on the Oregon side of the river.

Water Quality Monitoring

If you’d like to gather water quality data at your site, help us to monitor E.coli at Columbia River Gorge and Portland area sites. Contact Lorri for more information.

Invasive Zebra Mussel Monitoring

Portland State University provides volunteers with a PVC pipe to monitor monthly for mussel colonization. If you see zebra striped mussels, please call the invasive species hotline IMMEDIATELY! 1-866-INVADER.


To view aerial photographs of your site, download Google Earth and follow instructions on our Adopted Sites page


Contact Lorri Epstein, Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Director, with any questions or for additional information., 541-399-0769