The Grey to Green initiative is expanding Portland's green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff more naturally, control invasive plants, restore native vegetation, protect sensitive natural areas, and replace culverts that impede fish passage. Grey to Green investments improve water quality, air quality, wildlife habitat and neighborhood livability. The initiative also provides safer routes to schools and helps us adapt to a changing climate.
Environmental Services launched Grey to Green in 2008 with a multi-year, $55-million investment. Public and private partnerships are helping achieve the Grey to Green goals. Here's a summary of Grey to Green progress as of spring 2013:
- Planting Yard and Street Trees
Over 29,800 new street and yard trees have been planted since 2008 with Grey to Green funding. Environmental Services’ Urban Canopy Program, in partnership with Friends of Trees and other contractors, uses innovative outreach and planting models to get more trees planted in low-canopy, underserved neighborhoods and communities. For example, in 2013 Environmental Services planted 900 new street trees in the Centennial and Glenfair neighborhoods in East Portland. The program also includes the Treebate incentive, close coordination with Portland Parks & Recreation, and outreach and education supported by an AmeriCorps volunteer. Recent monitoring shows that about 94% of new Grey to Green trees are surviving after two years, a rate that compares favorably to efforts elsewhere.
- Constructing Green Streets
Since 2008, 793 new green street facilities are complete, with more projects underway as part of the Tabor to the River Program, the NE Klickitat neighborhood greenway, Multnomah Boulevard, and other projects. Approximately 80 additional facilities will be constructed by July 2013. The Green Street Stewardship Program continues to expand, with businesses and individuals helping to care for green streets and beautify their neighborhoods.
- Controlling Invasive Plants
Environmental Services is the city’s lead for coordinating a multi-pronged approach for invasive species management under the adopted Invasive Plant Strategy. Since 2008, approximately 4,500 new acres have been treated for invasive plants. In addition, an average of 500 acres receive follow-up treatment each year. Portland Parks & Recreation's Protect the Best program focuses on improving ecological health in natural area parks to prevent degradation from invasive species infestations and reduce long-term maintenance costs. Environmental Services’ Early Detection Rapid Response program monitors and treats priority invasive plant species on parks, rights-of-way and private property, targeting new invaders such as garlic mustard, knotweed, and giant hogweed before they become well established. The invasive species program also includes support for the Youth Conservation Crew, which provides employment opportunities for a diverse population of youth ages 14-18 who help clear ivy from city parks and establish native plants.
- Replacing Culverts
Environmental Services and its partners are on track to remove or replace all nine culverts that block fish passage and create water quality problems in Crystal Springs Creek by 2015. Five culverts have already been removed or replaced, with construction scheduled for summer 2013 for the culverts at SE Tacoma Street and Eastmoreland Golf Course. The project also includes restoration of the Westmoreland Park pond and facilities to manage stormwater runoff from area streets. In addition to this work in Crystal Springs, eight other culverts in the city have been removed or replaced to improve fish passage, water quality and hydrology.
- Building Ecoroofs
219 ecoroofs covering 10.72 acres of rooftop have been completed since 2008. That’s the equivalent of more than eight football fields of new green roofs covering buildings. There are now 378 ecoroofs in Portland. 2012 was the biggest year yet for ecoroofs, with 120,000 square feet of ecoroof constructed thanks to the city’s Ecoroof Incentive. More projects are pairing ecoroofs with photovoltaic panels to maximize benefits on Portland’s rooftops. A recently completed ecoroof on a Gunderson LLC facility demonstrates innovative design to manage stormwater while also creating habitat for birds and insects. This is one of few habitat-focused ecoroofs in the nation, and particularly important as it provides green space in a heavy industrial area (inspiring a music video to be filmed on site). Read more about the Gunderson roof here. The annual Portland Ecoroof Symposium, focusing on the return on investment for green roofs, is scheduled for May 2, 2013.
- Acquiring and Protecting Open Spaces
Environmental Services and partners have purchased 390 acres of natural areas in the city to help protect natural stormwater management functions and clean water sources, including recent acquisition of the Broadmoor/Catkin Marsh Natural Area. Many natural areas are also home to rare habitat types like wetlands and Oregon white oak savannah. Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation stabilize conditions on newly acquired properties by removing invasive species and preventing erosion. For example, just two seasons of land management and revegetation on the recently acquired River View Natural Area is helping the native forest come back to life. Community volunteers are helping restore the forest so it can sustain visitors in the future. See before and after pictures here.
- Natural Area Revegetation
The Watershed Revegetation Program works with public and private property owners to manage invasive species and restore native vegetation on more than 4,400 acres since 2008. This effort includes planting over 516,000 new native tree and shrub seedlings and following up to make sure the new plants and trees are well established. Recent work includes revegetation of the new public natural area created as part of the East Lents Floodplain Restoration project and revegetation efforts in Mt. Tabor Park.
For More Information contact Sara Culp at 503-823-3235