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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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Take a Ride on the Stormwater Cycling Tour

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The free tour will take place this Saturday, November 22nd from 9:45am - 12:30 pm

This Saturday, join staff from Portland’s Bureau of Transportation and Bureau of Environmental Services for a tour of green streets and other innovative stormwater designs that help protect our watersheds and enhance the beauty and safety of our streets for folks on foot or bike.

Great for folks new to the bike or new to the area, the ride will be an easy-paced loop, with stops along the way and returning to the start location.  The route will occur on low-traffic streets and neighborhood greenways, with some off-street paths.  A few sections will be on streets with bike lanes.  The ride is free, but helmets are required.  Kids under 16 welcome if accompanied by an adult.

The ride is part of the Portland By Cycle series of rides and classes. Click here to see the full schedule. Find your way to the ride by bike or transit with Trimet's multi-modal trip planner.

Stormwater Cycling Tour

Saturday, November 22, 9:45 AM – 12:30 p.m.

Meeting location: Crema, SE Ankeny St and 28th Ave

Over one-third of Portland’s 2,500 miles of sewer pipes are more than 80 years old.  Portland combines sewer improvements that replace or repair Portland’s aging sewer pipes with green streets, ecoroofs, trees and other green infrastructure to increase sewer system efficiency, and protect water quality, public health, and the environment.  Green infrastructure keeps stormwater out of the sewer system, filters pollutants, provides habitat and increases neighborhood green space for healthier watersheds.  


Green Street Plantings on Division Street

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Planting season is underway and crews are hard at work adding vegetation to new green street planters

We’re in the middle of November and it’s planting season! Environmental Services crews are hard at work adding vegetation to new green street planters along SE Division Street. Green streets capture stormwater runoff from streets and let the water soak into the ground as soil and plants filter pollutants. Green streets keep stormwater out of the sewer system and help prevent basement backups. These hardy green street plants are best established in the fall and will play an important role for years to come.

The plantings are the final steps in getting these green street facilities operational for the rainy season. The city maintains green streets, but you can help too. Green Street Stewards are volunteers who help keep green streets in good working order in between city maintenance visits. Go to to learn more and adopt your own green street.

The Division Streetscape Project is part of the Tabor to the River program, which combines cutting-edge stormwater management techniques with sewer repairs and improvements to stop basement flooding, manage stormwater naturally on-site, and restore watershed health. Visit to learn more.

Beaver at work in Tryon Creek


We thought you might like this beaver dam photo from an earlier, slightly warmer day this fall.  (Don't worry, our field crews are looking a little more bundled up this week.)

scientists at beaver dam in Tryon Creek  beaver dam from downstream

In September, we shared a story about lamprey in Tryon Creek.  On that same visit, Environmental Services staff discovered this brand new beaver dam in the creek.  This new work of natural art and engineering is between the Tryon Creek confluence with the Willamette River and Highway 43.

Learn more about why it’s good to see beaver activity in Portland’s streams in stories from Johnson Creek and Stephens Creek.

Check out this PBS documentary, Leave it to Beavers.  

Naturescaping and Rain Gardens Wokshops a Success

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Dozens participate in October workshops sponsored by East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District

More than 60 area residents participated in East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District’s October workshops on Naturescaping & Rain Gardens, sponsored by Environmental Services and held at the Southeast Uplift office.

Over coffee and snacks, participants learned firsthand from skilled landscape design professionals about how to prepare for projects on their property. Workshops covered basic site planning principles, interactive site selection for rain gardens, background on selecting native plants, tools for evaluating soil and removing sod, maintenance tips, and a field trip to a model naturescaping and rain garden project on the SE Uplift campus.

If you’re interested in participating in future workshops, go to the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District website for more information. There are a few November classes remaining and there will be more classes in spring.

If you can’t attend a workshop, you can take advantage of basic tips on both Naturescaping and Rain Gardens. And if you manage stormwater on your property with a rain garden, you may be eligible for up to 100% off your on-site stormwater charge through Clean River Rewards.

Instructor Lora Price helps participants choose the best site for a rain garden.

Participants learn about appropriate plants, like the Red Twig Dogwood

Alien Plant Invader: False Brome


This invasive grass is hitchhiking around town.

false brome in forestThis month’s featured invasive plant might test your plant identification skills.  False brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) is a bright green, fuzzy grass that is spreading across western Oregon and is up to no good.

While most grasses seem to avoid shady spots, false brome can thrive in many environments, including open and forested areas, roadsides, and stream banks. Once it makes itself at home, false brome can displace native understory plants and make it difficult for young trees to grow.  False brome may also increase fuel for wildfire and is not a good food source for native wildlife or livestock.

False brome made its debut in the U.S. near Eugene, Oregon in 1939, and has since spread across much of the Willamette Valley and SW Oregon. It is a required eradication species in Portland (see the Portland Plant List), a Class B noxious weed in Oregon, and a class A noxious weed in Washington.  While false brome is widespread in much of western Oregon, it is still relatively rare in Portland.  We need your help to keep it that way. 

How does false brome get around? The grass has abundant seeds that like to hitchhike on animal fur, hiker clothing and shoes, and vehicles. Seeds can also travel in waterways.  

     false brome flowers     false brome's fuzzy leaf

Grasses are tricky to identify, but false brome gives itself away with a few distinguishing characteristics.  False brome is a perennial bunchgrass that is capable of forming a solid carpet. It can reach up to 36 inches high, and it remains a distinct bright green color through much of the year. In June through September, the flower heads droop on the end of a wiry stem, and each flower in the flower head is attached to the stem with little to no stalk (see photo above left). 

False brome leaves are fuzzy, flat and wide, and when you hold them up to the light, you can see the hairs along the leaf edges. The lower stem is also fuzzy.

false brome plant

What can you do?  To remove false brome, dig up any small patches before they flower, but be sure to remove all the roots!  It’s also a good idea to cut off flower heads in June, to keep the seeds from spreading.  For larger patches, mid-summer to fall treatments with herbicides can be effective. For any treatment, follow up is highly recommended for several growing seasons. Before you take action, please contact Mitch Bixby at Environmental Services to discuss options and make sure the suspect is indeed false brome, and not a native grass. 


For more information, visit the City of Portland false brome website. King County, Washington also has more information and photographs.

Invasive species affect us all. They damage our forests, our streams and rivers, and our property.  Nationwide, damages associated with invasive species are estimated to be $120 billion each year.  In Oregon, the control of invasive weeds and the cost of the damages they create amounts to about $125 million each year.  We know that it costs a lot less to control new invasive plants before they become infestations, but we need everyone’s help.  Read more here about the problems caused by invasive species and why BES is particularly concerned about their impact on water quality.

Catch up on previous Alien Plant Invader posts: