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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

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

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New Log Jams in the Columbia Slough will Provide Fish Habitat

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Watch a video tour of the installations to learn how they'll improve habitat for endangered salmon

Wood plays an essential role in our waterway ecosystems. Environmental Services recently finished installing 35 ELJ’s “engineered log jams’ in the Lower Columbia Slough. These structures provide shelter and habitat for migrating salmon that are resting and feeding in the slough en route to the ocean. Over the last century  virtually all wood has been removed from the Columbia Slough so these structures are reestablishing critical fish habitat.

These log jams are installed at elevations that coincide with the salmon migration periods. They will be dry or partially dry when flows are too low and temperatures are too high for salmon. When the log jams are high and dry they will not provide shelter for predatory fish.

Kayakers pass a log jam while paddling along the Slough

A heron perches on an engineered log jam in the Columbia Slough

Purple Loosestrife Under Attack at Oaks Bottom

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The City of Portland and US Department of Agriculture are collaborating to improve habitat conditions in the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Invasive purple loosestrife has been abundant in the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge for years, as it is in wetlands across the country. Ten years ago, Environmental Services and Portland Parks and Recreation started working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on biologic controls.

purple loosestrife at Oaks Bottominvasive purple loosestrife thrives in some parts of Oaks Bottom

They released leaf beetles that feed exclusively on purple loosestrife. For several years, high water in Oaks Bottom flooded the beetles in May and June before the invasive plants grew high enough to keep the insects above water.

adult leaf beetlesadult leaf beetles feeding on purple loosestrife at Oaks Bottom

In the last two summers, city staff noticed that more leaf beetles survived and consumed more purple loosestrife. This summer, it looks like they’re finally getting to eat all they want. In some areas, loosestrife plants are completely defoliated. If low water and dry conditions continue, defoliation could increase tenfold this summer.

defoliated purple loosestrifepurple loosestrife in the southwest corner of Oaks Bottom after a leaf beetle feeding frenzy

Learn more about Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge as well as future planning for habitat enhancement happening within the next few years. 

Paddle the 21st Annual Columbia Slough Regatta

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Join the FREE event on Sunday, August 2nd, from 9am-1pm

The Olmstead Brothers’ 1903 Portland Parks Plan said “…the remaining great landscape feature of the city is that of the Columbia Sloughs.” See for yourself at the annual Columbia Slough Regatta starting at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 2. The slough’s calm water is a safe and lovely haven for family activities, wildlife watching and leisurely paddling.

All ages are welcome at this family event. Bring your own canoe or kayak or register for rentals. Event organization request a donation of $8.00 per person or $25.00 per family, but no one is turned away for lack of funds. Early registration for rental boats is highly recommended.

21st Annual Columbia Slough Regatta

Sunday, August 2 | 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Launch Location: Multnomah County Drainage District, 1880 NE Elrod Drive, Portland, OR 97211

Driving Directions:

From the south: Follow NE Columbia Boulevard to the traffic light at NE 21st Avenue. Follow NE 21st north to its end at NE Elrod Drive. Turn left (west) onto Elrod Drive and follow the road for about three tenths of a mile to event parking.  

From the north: From Marine Drive travel south on NE 33rd Avenue for about one mile. Turn right (west) onto Elrod Drive and follow the road for about one mile to event parking.

TriMet: Buses #70 and #75

For more information or boat rentals, contact the Columbia Slough Watershed Council at events@columbiaslough.org or visit http://columbiaslough.org/index.php/events/event/248/ 

To volunteer, email Hanna.Davis@columbiaslough.org or call 503-281-1132. 

Salmon Spotted in Crystal Springs

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Large healthy spring chinook observed in Crystal Springs

This week on July 6, Environmental Services staff spotted a large, healthy-looking, hatchery spring Chinook salmon in Crystal Springs, upstream from the confluence with Johnson Creek. 

This is good news considering earlier this week, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) noted that more than 200 spring Chinook carcasses have been found in the Willamette River in Portland because of high water temperatures.  

Spring Chinook salmon typically die in the fall after they’ve spawned. Some also die from stress, disease, or predation before they spawn.

Stream temperatures in Crystal Springs are inching up due to the recent extreme heat. The good news is that Crystal Springs projects like the Westmoreland Park restoration have reduced normal stream temperatures nearly three degrees Celsius. We need to do more work to protect the water quality of our urban streams, but we’re encouraged by salmon thriving in Portland’s waterways.  

NEWSFLASH:  Two days later, the Crystal Springs Partnership observed a salmonid in lower Crystal Springs near SE Harney Street.

Linnton Neighborhood Volunteers Go After Ivy Along Hoge Creek

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Funding from the Community Watershed Stewardship Program will help support the project

Watch the transformation of Hoge Creek in Linnton Neighborhood from ivy-covered to lovingly-restored with native plants.  Neighborhood volunteers have received grant funding from the City of Portland’s Community Watershed Stewardship Program and have worked with Portland Parks and Recreation to save mature trees from climbing ivy, remove ivy near the stream and restore the area with native woodland species.

The group has recently been awarded $6,200 to continue the work on a restoration, outreach and pollution reduction project for Linnton Creek in Forest Park. The project will remove invasive vegetation, restore native plants, and install an interpretive sign and a plastic bag dispenser to encourage dog owners to pick up after their pets to reduce pollution in the creek.

The Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) helps Portlanders make improvements in their neighborhoods and communities, while also improving the health of our watersheds. CWSP is a partnership between Environmental Services and Portland State University. Visit the CWSP website to learn more about stewardship projects and future funding opportunities.