News Stories

  • June

    Corps trains for ‘Super Bowl of disasters’

    The Corps of Engineers' Northwestern Division led a regional exercise June 14-16 to prepare its teams of emergency planners, operators, and engineers for the possibility of a severe earthquake from the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
  • April

    Corps bracing for another challenging water year in Willamette Basin

    Despite substantial help from recent rain and snow events, Army water managers are bracing for another challenging year as they work to refill 13 Willamette Valley reservoirs for the upcoming conservation season.
  • March

    What’s it like being a working mom in 2022?

    We asked our Bonneville Dam Resident Engineer, Martha Brandl, who balances her full-time position as a rockstar on our team with raising three children—including two twins. (That’s soon to be five, as Martha is expecting a second set of twins in May.)
  • Climbers inspect Bonneville Lock's miter gate

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains and assesses the locks along the Columbia and Snake rivers on an annual basis to keep an estimated $23 billion dollars’ worth of commerce flowing.
  • Incredible women of Portland District

    Women play a vital role in developing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and this great nation. They serve across all career paths in USACE, as leaders and supervisors, engineers and rangers, scientists, and administrators, to name a few. The progress made is astonishing when you consider that in 1903, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employed just three female clerks and it wasn’t until World War II that two women broke into engineering positions within the Corps. Today, 26 percent of the Portland District workforce are women and while all positions in the Army are open to women, only 18 percent of the total Army is female. Those numbers reflect the progress we still need to make.
  • October

    That sounds fishy: demonized trash fish finally gets some respect

    Leaves are changing, the weather is cooling and getting wetter, and Fred Meyer is stocking its shelves with Christmas decorations, which means it’s October. Instead of skipping ahead to winter holidays, let’s fall back and celebrate autumn and Halloween by highlighting a fish that has been demonized in the past, partly for its looks, and partly for our past perceptions of it as a blood-sucking, bottom-feeding trash fish*: the Pacific lamprey.
  • September

    Mother Nature can be comforting but has scolded (scalded) us this year

    Mother Nature can be comforting and calm but this year it seems like she used our first, middle and last name as she scolded (or scalded) us … “Pacific North [emphasis added] West, what in the world were you thinking?!” … for punching our hypothetical little sister (California). Our punishment has been drought, record-breaking temperatures, wildfires and extremely dry conditions throughout the region. Even though the early part of this summer was a scorching hot nightmare, north western Oregon is fortunate to have a consistent flow of water – thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ system of dams and reservoirs in the Willamette Valley.
  • July

    That sounds fishy: fish ladders at high-head dams impractical, largely unneeded

    Humans. What other sentient being designs a tool requiring hands and feet and expects animals without limbs to use it? Alas, the answer is humans. Humans created a ladder for fish, which is quite effective in certain situations – but isn’t a blanket solution to every fish passage problem. And while most humans would agree that ladders can be useful for climbing short distances, perhaps 20-50 feet– another tool – like an elevator or truck – may be a better option to climb hundreds of feet. Otherwise, there would need to be more infrastructure to support that ladder, or perhaps it would need to be a staircase at that point. This is similar for fish when moving them up and downstream.
  • June

    Big Bertha heads to Benson Beach, battles erosion

    Off the coast of Oregon, Big Bertha moves in the water, inching toward land. Bertha, as her government creators to refer to it, is the result of three years of inter-agency planning. Her architects; some of whom work for the Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; conscripted half of Portland District’s dredge fleet to scrape the river bottom and collect what was to become Bertha: a migrating mound of sand.
  • That sounds fishy: twisting traps troll tributaries in the Willamette

    The bulky contraptions float listlessly downstream of three dams in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The buoyant, metal devices hold large screws that the water flow turns. This twist of the screw – creating a creaking, rasping, scraping sound – generates enough hydraulics to keep small fish from escaping the slowly spinning, cone-shaped collectors – or, screw traps.

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