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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Suite 1000, Portland, OR 97204

Springtime is Rain Garden Time

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There are many resources available to help you build a rain garden and save money on your stormwater bill

Have these sunny days inspired you to get outside for yard work?  Or have the rainy days left you looking at muddy low spots that need some perking up?

Spring is a great time to plan and build a rain garden.  There are many resources available for help, and it’s one way you can save on your stormwater bill.

Don’t worry-- even beginning gardeners can build a simple rain garden.  Rain gardens add beauty, attract pollinating insects and birds, and naturally manage water on your property instead of sending it down the drain. 

Check out these videos to get started:

Howto Disconnect a Downspout

How to Build a Rain Garden

Once you’ve got the basics in mind, more detailed information is in the the Oregon Rain Garden Guide. If you prefer a class to get inspired, check out a free East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District rain garden class:

The Backyard Habitat Certification Program through Columbia Land Trust and the Portland Audubon Society provides one-on-one assistance to plan your site for native habitat and stormwater management. You will have access to native plant sales, discounts and guidance through a network of peers. Check out their Facebook page at:

If your rain garden manages the runoff from your roof, you may qualify for savings on your stormwater bill through the Clean River Rewards program. 

Ecoroof Symposium - Wednesday, May 21

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Registration is open for the 6th annual symposium on ecoroof research and implementation


Portland Ecoroof Symposium

Wednesday, May 21, 2014  - 8:30am - 6:00pm

World Trade Conference Center, 121 SW Salmon 2WTC, Portland, Oregon

The sixth annual Portland Ecoroof Symposium will take place on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at the World Trade Conference Center in downtown Portland. The event will feature local and regional experts sharing scientific research and case studies that explore the true costs and savings of ecoroofs. The event is open to the public, and targeted toward architects, landscape architects, developers, building owners and facility managers. The Symposium also features a Vendor Showcase of leading green roof companies from Portland and the surrounding region.

Event Registration

Registration for the event is $50, which includes coffee service, lunch, and refreshments in the morning and afternoon. Click here to begin the registration process.

Vendors interested in participating in the Vendor Showcase can reserve a table with an additional $25 fee. Vendor applications are separate from the event registration, and can be found here.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker for the 2014 Ecoroof Symposium is Anne Whiston Spirn, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Anne is a teacher, photographer, landscape architect, and author of many books, including The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design, named one of the past century's "100 Essential Books of Planning' by the American Planning Association.

Symposium Program

The complete event program will be announced in early April. Speakers for the 2014 Ecoroof Symposium include:

  • Janet Clements, Senior Economist at Stratus Consulting

  • Maureen Connelly, Director, Faculty of the Centre for Architectural Ecology at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)

  • Ilana Judah, Director of Sustainability and Senior Associate at FXFOWLE Architects

  • Jason King, Senior Landscape Architect, Herrera Environmental Consultants

  • Aditya Ranade, Senior Analyst at Lux Research

  • Shawn Sullivan, Development Manager at Winkler Development Corporation


Register to attend                      Submit a Vendor Application


The 2014 Ecoroof Symposium is sponsored by the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and the Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. 

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.Ecoroofs are vegetated roof systems that absorb rain to reduce stormwater runoff. Ecoroofs also improve air quality and save energy. Through the incentive program that began in 2008, the city approved $1.9-million for 135 projects, resulting in 10 acres of new ecoroof. There are currently 568 greenroofs in Portland covering over 38 acres.



Portland's Tree Hug Record is Official


Guinness recognizes our love of trees, just in time for Arbor Day 2014.

hugging trees at Hoyt ArboretumWe knew it, but now it’s officially on record: last July’s tree hug at Hoyt Arboretum just posted as the verified official Guinness World Record for most people hugging trees at one time!

Treecology, Inc. and Hoyt Arboretum partnered with Friends of Trees, Environmental Services and others to get 936 people out into the arboretum—including a newly married bride and groom who happened upon the scene—to appreciate trees. 

Thanks to everyone who participated, we hold the record for now.  But, Scotland has challenged us, so now is a good time to save the date for Portland’s next tree hug to help hold the record: July 12, 2014.  We’ll need your help to make it bigger and better. 

But July is a ways off-- in the meantime, check out all of the activities coming up in April for Portland's Arbor Month.

Trees help manage stormwater and provide many other benefits that make our city cleaner, greener, and a healthier place to live.  Find out more about Environmental Services’ work to plant trees for clean rivers and streams and how you can help:

Related City Green posts:

New Trees Take Root in East Portland

Trees Catch the Rain

NE 33rd Drive BIG Culvert Project Completed

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Another big BES in-water project is completed and functioning well in the Columbia Slough.

Environmental Services replaced a culvert at NE 33rd Drive where it crosses the Buffalo Slough, a southern arm of the Columbia Slough. The old culvert was too small and too high — all that water, trying to get through that little round metal culvert.  This warmed up the Slough and caused water quality problems. The old culvert also prevented fish and wildlife passage. The slough is home to native fish, mussels, turtles and many bird species.

The NE 33rd Drive culvert, before construction


The new box style culvert is 12 feet high and its design that allows plenty of water flow that improves water quality and fish passage. Construction required deep excavation, a temporary dam, extreme care around existing utility and fiber optic lines, and constant pumping of the high ground water in this area. The project also included building new sidewalks on NE 33rd Drive and street-side planters that manage stormwater runoff on both sides of the street. See the photos of the new culvert below, and learn more about the NE 33rd Drive Culvert Project here


The 33rd Drive culvert, after construction



Sunday Parkways 2014: Explore your Watershed!

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The first event is May 11, with a stop at Foster Floodplain Natural Area.

The 2014 Sunday Parkways dates have been announced, and we at Environmental Services are oh-so-excited to participate once again.  The events get thousands of Portlanders out biking, walking, rolling and dancing through neighborhoods in all of Portland’s watersheds

Human-powered transportation is a great way to help our rivers, streams and environment.  And, we can slow down and see the nature right here in our neighborhoods.

Foster Floodplain natural area in springWe’re happy to announce that we will again be hosting a stop at Foster Floodplain Natural Area in Lents during the East Portland Sunday Parkways event this Mothers Day, May 11th.

There will be live music, nature activities for kids, local food and information about Johnson Creek and local community groups. Mark your calendars and join us for an exciting day of environmental awareness, community celebration and healthy fun. If you haven’t been to Foster Floodplain yet, this is a great excuse to see what all the buzz is about.


fish hats at Sunday Parkways

The Foster Floodplain stop is where you can pick up one of the famous fish hats—they went fast last year!

For more information on other Sunday Parkways events and dates, please see the Sunday Parkways website.

Stayed tuned for more information as the May 11 event gets closer. 

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