Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

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

More Contact Info

                        Follow the blog on Facebook at CityGreenPortland! 

Surveying Forest Park's Streams

1 Comment

Recording the condition of Portland's natural resources

staff surveying streamSummer feels far away with this cold weather, but it wasn’t too long ago that a dedicated group was trekking through the depths of Forest Park to study some of Portland’s most pristine clean water and habitat resources.  The park has more than 5,100 acres of forest that protect many streams that flow into the Willamette River.


Environmental Services’ Willamette Watershed staff, along with Portland Parks and Recreation and the Forest Park Conservancy, surveyed more than 10 miles of stream that had not previously been surveyed.  This included Doane, Saltzman, Rocking Chair, Munger, Newton and Linnton Creeks.  Each stream was surveyed from the bottom (Highway 30) to the top (private property boundary or Skyline Blvd.).  If you've ever hiked up one of the park's fire lanes, you know how steep the terrain can be! 


In-stream surveys assess the condition of each of the streams.  Information is collected to identify locations where problems exist, as well as areas containing high value resources.  This information is then analyzed to support watershed and stormwater planning efforts.   

old, broken culverts

Staff documented a wide variety of stream conditions.  Miles of dense native riparian vegetation and large wood debris provide excellent habitat for aquatic organisms and naturally filter water.  Red legged frogs and Pacific Giant salamanders are some of the amphibians that live in Forest Park. 

Some of the challenges to be addressed include crumbling culverts under trails that cause erosion and damage streams.  Staff even found some old cars deep in the forest.



Pacific Giant Salamander found in Forest ParkInterested in helping out and learning more about Forest Park? Mark February 8 on your calendar for the next Volunteer Stewardship Day in the park.  It’s a good way to beat the winter blues!

Explore Forest Park on your own: Check out for trail maps, books, and history. 

Find out about more ways to help Portland's natural areas through Portland Parks & Recreation's stewardship programs: 

Alien Plant Invader: Spurge laurel


This hearty plant thrives and even blooms in the cold weather!

spurge laurel plantThis week’s invasive plant, spurge laurel, is neither a spurge nor a laurel, and it can be mistaken for a rhododendron or a Euphorbia.  How’s that for an identity crisis?

Spurge laurel is in fact a Daphne, a group of plants that are known for having scented flowers and poisonous berries.  Unlike the popular Daphne odora, which is not invasive in Portland, spurge laurel is on the list of invasive species we’re working to contain.  It’s toxic, it takes over our native forests, and it’s hard to get rid of. 

Why talk about invasive plants now, when it’s frosty outside?  Because spurge laurel season is coming up, and we need your help!  

The plant grows in thickets and out-competes native vegetation in the forest understory in the Pacific Northwest. This harms our water quality and native habitat.  Spurge laurel is primarily spread by birds and rodents which consume the berries.  Most of the plant parts are toxic and extra caution should be taken when attempting to remove this plant.  Skin exposure to spurge laurel can cause a rash, and swallowing berries can cause poisoning especially among small children, cats and dogs. 

spurge laurel plant with green flowers tall spurge laurel shrub

Spurge laurel blooms in January and February, so keep an eye out for this plant soon.  The flowers have a bitter fragrance, are yellow-green in color, and are located under the leaves of the plant.  By March, berries will form.  They will turn from pale green to black by early summer.  The plant tends to grow in clumps that are 3 to 5 feet tall.  Many plants in Portland look similar to spurge laurel, including Mediterranean spurge, winter daphne, and some rhododendrons.  The flowers are the easiest way to see the difference.

Digging up the plant is the best way to control spurge laurel.  Late winter is a good time, before the berries can spread.  Digging up the plant after it rains makes the job easier.  All parts of the root need to be removed to limit re-growth, and the area should be checked at least once a year to remove any new seedlings.  Berries should be placed in the trash and the remainder of the plant can be placed in your yard waste bin.  Land owners can contact Environmental Services with any additional questions.

Visit this page for more information about spurge laurel.  The East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District also has information available.

city staff removing spurge laurel

That's a truck full of spurge laurel! 

City invasive species program staff manage the spread of this plant in Portland's natural areas to protect water quality and native forests.


Check out our other Alien Plant Invader posts:

 Invasive species affect us all. They damage our forests, streams and rivers, and 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, so we need everyone’s help.  Find out more about the problems caused by invasive species and why Environmental Services works to stop their spread.

Community Watershed Stewardship Program Announces 2014 Funding

2 Comments | Add a Comment

Grants are available again for projects that meet community needs and support watershed health

Environmental Services is seeking proposals for community-based projects that benefit neighborhoods and communities while also improving the health of Portland’s environment. The Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) provides grants of up to $10,000. Short, one-page pre-applications are due by Friday, February 14, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. Please note, this grant deadline is six weeks earlier than in past years. 

Projects that can be funded include:

•           Neighborhood safety, health and livability

•           Youth leadership and skills development

•           Community gardens, green space projects and tree planting

•           Art and education

•           Cleanup and restoration

•           Stormwater management such as ecoroofs and parking lot swales


Bridlemile Creek Stewards, past CWSP grant recipients

What does neighborhood safety have to do with watershed health?

Just ask the people who live near SE 82nd and Woodstock. Out of concern for public safety and criminal activity in a particular parking lot, they formed a neighborhood group, “Our Happy Block Coalition”.  The volunteer group received a CWSP grant in 2011 for a project that removed 4,300 square feet of asphalt and replaced it with native plant rain gardens. These new facilities now soak up 370,000 gallons of stormwater runoff each year, diverting it from the city’s combined sewer system and naturally absorbing it into the ground. The project also included creating a mural, and closing one entrance to the parking lot, which decreased crime. As a result, there is increased public safety in the area. In the first year of the project, there was a 57% drop in calls to the police. There is also greater safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and children. They now have a more beautiful, vibrant neighborhood and a stronger, more connected community.

Our Happy Block mural and planting


We have a new application process!

We now ask for a short pre-application by February 14. Project proposals that fit CWSP goals will be invited to complete the full application, due April 15. This will allow us to better support applicants throughout the process.


CWSP is committed to supporting applicants throughout the process, so don’t let limited experience writing grants or with environmental work in general stop you from applying. For help developing project ideas and putting together an application contact Rosa Lehman at 503-823-7917 or For application materials and more information see

CWSP encourages applications for projects that involve the leadership and meaningful participation of people of color, immigrants, elders, youth, those with disabilities, low-income residents, and other underrepresented groups.

Protecting Watershed Health in Southwest Portland

0 Comments | Add a Comment

Environmental Services is working with its partners this fall on projects to restore degraded forests, protect water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.

Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation have worked together since 2011 in the River View Natural Area to remove invasive plants, close and reroute some trails, and remove trash. This winter, reforestation crews will plant more than 50,000 native tree and shrub seedlings in the natural area. Portland Parks is also developing a natural area management plan that will be ready for public review in March.


The West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District is working withRiverViewCemetery andLewis & ClarkCollege to restore forested and natural areas on these private properties. Environmental Services is helping get these projects started this fall with invasive plant removal to protect forest canopy and keep invasive weeds from spreading into the adjacent River View Natural Area.

Revegetation crews have removed invasives on 22 areas at River View Cemetery. At Lewis & Clark, crews will remove ivy and clematis vines on 23 acres in late December. Next year, invasive removal will focus on blackberry, laurel, holly, ivy, and other invasives on the ground. Conservation district crews will plant native trees and shrubs after invasive plants are controlled.

Want to learn more? Visit the Watershed Revegetation Program and the River View Natural Area websites. 

A New Ecoroof Record for Portland

2 Comments | Add a Comment

Over 130,000 ft² of ecoroof area installed in 2013

As the year comes to a close, we're excited to announce that 2013 is the biggest year yet for green roof installation in Portland. Projects of note include the new Wal-mart at Delta Park, which opened in November with it the largest ecoroof in Portland. Other notably large projects include the Linden Apartments in SE Portland and the Emery at South Waterfront. In all, 40 green roof projects were installed across the city in 2013 for over 130,000 ft². The previous records were in 2008 and 2012, with 120,000 ft² and 116,000 ft² respectively.  

Delta Park Walmart (North Portland) - 37,034 ft²

Linden Apartments (SE Portland) - 17,400 ft² (photo courtesy of Keith McCloskey

The Emery (South Waterfront) - 9,316 ft²

Many of the 2013 projects were funded through the Ecoroof Incentive that began in 2009 and ended last Spring.  (Projects have two years to use the incentive funds, and there are several from the later rounds that have not yet been completed).  Since the late 1990's there have been over 560 green roofs installed in Portland, totaling more than 38 acres. The development of supporting policies like the Ecoroof Floor-to-Area Bonus, the Stormwater Management Manual, and the Ecoroof Incentive were helpful in building the momentum that led to a record-breaking 2013.And things are looking good for 2014 too! Until then, happy holidays and remember - reindeer prefer green roofs