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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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Providence Park and Tanner Creek

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Timbers fans – have you ever wondered what lies under Providence Park field?

This weekend, the Portland Timbers kick off their 2015 regular season at Providence Park. Many people don’t know that the park is located over what was once one of the west side’s largest waterways, Tanner Creek. The creek got its name from tanneries built next to it and was one of several streams that flowed down from the West Hills and emptied into Couch Lake (shown in the map below) on the banks of the Willamette River.

(photo courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society)

As Portland’s west side grew, the city eventually routed Tanner Creek and other West Hills streams into underground combined sewer pipes and filled in the stream channels. In 1926, the Multnomah Athletic Club built Multnomah Stadium directly over the pipes that carried the streams, stormwater runoff and sanitary sewage to the Willamette River. Portland didn’t build a wastewater treatment plant until 1952. Today, we call the stadium Providence Park.

In 2006, Environmental Services finished work on a new pipeline that removed Tanner Creek and the other West Hills streams from the combined sewer system and redirected the clean stream flow directly to the Willamette. The Tanner Creek project was part of Portland’s 20-year program to control combined sewer overflows and it removes about 163-million gallons of water annually from the combined sewers.

Last year, Nick Firchau, senior editor at Major League Soccer’s www.mlssoccer.com, wrote a great article about the history of Tanner Creek and its present day status flowing under Providence Park:

“Only a limited number of people actually know for sure what Tanner Creek is anymore. Some say they can hear it rush freely under a manhole near the Providence Park light rail station, others think it’s a sewer. Some say the water is only deep enough to cover your bootlaces, but others still walk around Portland today with t-shirts telling the world they kayak’d Tanner Creek, remnants from a DIY approach to cheap thrills in the 1970’s.”

Even though it’s still underground, you can find several reminders of Tanner Creek up here on the surface. The city built Tanner Springs Park where the creek used to flow into Couch Lake. A few blocks away from Providence Park, placards in the sidewalk mark the path of Tanner Creek’s historic channel.

There are reminders of Tanner Creek’s history incorporated into the design of Providence Park as well. From the Providence Park website:

“(Providence Park) holds its own mementos of the creek. A plaque set right inside Gate Four, describes where Tanner Creek ran when the field was a baseball stadium and home to the Portland Beavers. The log slab artwork outside the Adidas Timbers Team Store uses elements of the story of Tanner Creek to commemorate the history of the stadium. Most subtly, however, the wooden seats in section 118 dip slightly in the middle as a result of the previously sinking foundations and a reminder of the gulch below.”

 (photo courtesy of the Portland Timbers)

So, Timbers fans, when you go to Providence Park on Saturday to see your team take on Real Salt Lake, watch for these reminders of Tanner Creek. And when you raise the City of Portland flag in the stands, remember that the flag’s blue color represents "Our Rivers" and Tanner Creek.

Go Timbers!

 

(photo by By Ray Terrill [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Alien Plant Invader: Lesser celandine is back

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Don't be fooled by the attractive blooms

lesser celandine yellow flowers

 

Spring is definitely early this year, and one "wildflower" is really taking off right now.  Lesser celandine is a plant that's blooming yellow flowers in many neighborhoods, and you may be tempted to transplant some to your own home.  Please don't be fooled! 

Lesser celandine is an invasive plant.  If you've seen it around, you may know this plant spreads quickly and forms dense mats that keep out other plants.  That is what makes it a risk for Portland's natural areas, stream banks and parks, not to mention the rest of your landscaping.

Read more about how to identify and manage lesser celandine in our previous blog post

 

 

lesser celandine flowers at park 

Lesser celandine covers a large area at St. Francis Park in SE Portland.

 

  

 

 

SLOUGH 101: Saturday, March 14

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Learn about North and Northeast Portland's unique waterways

Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council March 14 for Slough 101, a workshop about the Columbia Slough watershed. Slough 101 is an introduction to this unique area and covers local history, watershed health, wildlife, recreation access and current issues with eight local experts that know North and NE Portland, Gresham and Fairview. The workshop also includes hands-on activities, levee and pump station tours and macroinvertebrate identification. Participants will spend some time outdoors.

looking at water insects  people studying map of Slough

Workshops are suitable for adults and teens 14 & upPre-registration is required. The workshop is free.

Slough 101 is sponsored by the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau.

Date: March 14th (Saturday)
Time: 9am - 12: 45 pm
Light refreshments will be provided.

Location:
Multnomah County Drainage District #1
1880 NE Elrod Dr
Portland, OR 97211

Registration and information: http://columbiaslough.org/index.php/events/event/149/

(503) 281-1132

Streamlining Agreement Turns 12

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The collaborative approach increases efficiency and makes regulatory decisions more consistent

This month, Portland’s groundbreaking Streamlining Agreement celebrates its 12th anniversary. Portland and federal agencies that authorize stream restoration and Endangered Species Act requirements entered into the agreement in February 2003. It was the first agreement of its kind with local government and federal regulatory agencies. Other state and local agencies signed on three years later.

The Streamlining Agreement builds a collaborative environmental permitting process, ensures early guidance in project planning, and makes permitting for in-stream construction and restoration projects more effective. In its first 12 years, the agreement led to federal, state and local governments issuing 168 permits for nearly 60 city projects.

Photo: The Streamlining Team assures that projects like the Portland-Milwaukie light rail bridge meet local, state, and federal regulations to protect endangered species and their habitats.

The Hatfield School of Government Center for Public Service recently assessed the Streamlining team process and endorsed the program. The assessment found that the agreement saves time and money, increases permitting process efficiency and makes regulatory decisions more consistent.

Photo: In 2013, the Streamlining Team was awarded the Department of State Lands Partnership Award by former Governor John Kitzhaber.

Get a little dirty for a cleaner Johnson Creek

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Epic environmental restoration day needs your help!

volunteer digging Looking for a way to get outside and get dirty for a good cause? Join the hundreds of volunteers who are coming out for the Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s Watershed Wide Event on Saturday, March 7 from 9 a.m. – 12 noon.

This is the 17th year in a row for this epic feat of environmental restoration. This grassroots effort will take place at ten locations across the Johnson Creek Watershed, from southeast Portland to Damascus and Boring. Volunteers will work with the Council and its partners to plant native trees and shrubs, and learn about how invasive plants like ivy and blackberry can affect water quality.

“The Council enjoys planning this event every year and we work hard to ensure that community members that have a blast learning about Johnson Creek while also giving back. It’s a great event for the whole family – with free lunch to boot,” says Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Amy Lodholz.

To sign up, please call 503-652-7477, or go to Johnson Creek Watershed Council website.

Special thanks to event supporters: City of GreshamClackamas County Water Environment Services, Crystal Springs Partnership, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Friends of Tideman Johnson Park, Friends of Trees, Portland Parks & Recreation, and Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.