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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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Get Registered for April Naturescaping and Rain Garden Workshops

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There are still spaces left for the FREE classes on April 11th and April 26th

Every year, the staff at East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) provide FREE naturescaping and rain garden classes across Portland. From the EMSWCD website:

Perfect for all levels of do-it-yourselfers, our FREE workshops highlight landscaping with native plants, water conservation, creative stormwater solutions and chemical-free gardening techniques that are good for people, water and wildlife. Most include a field trip to a neighborhood project or garden to see these principals in action.

This year Environmental Services is hosting two of these workshops in areas where private property stormwater facilities would be most helpful to current sewer rehabilitation projects. The Naturescaping Basics class takes place on Saturday, April 11th, and the Rain Gardens 101 class take place on Sunday, April 26th. If you're interested, see the details below and register now!

Naturescaping Basics

Date: Saturday, April 11th, 9:00am-1:00pm

Location: Southeast Uplift, 3534 SE Main, Portland, 97214

Learn to Naturescape! Naturescaping is the practice of designing (or redesigning) your landscape so that it reduces water use and decreases stormwater runoff while saving you time, money and energy. This introductory workshop introduces the core concepts of naturescaping, and also explores:

·         pollution prevention through the reduction/elimination of chemical use

·         how native plants naturally resist pests & tolerate drought conditions while attracting native birds, butterflies and other   beneficial pollinators to your garden

·         basic site planning principals, and many other great natural gardening & design tips

Even if you decide to enlist the help of a contractor, you’ll have the framework to make decisions and effectively communicate the vision you have for your yard. Class will visit a nearby naturescaped project to see design principles in action. You’ll receive a comprehensive workbook and even a free native plant to help you get started. RSVP for this event!

Rain Gardens 101

Date: Sunday, April 26th, 1:00pm-5:00pm

Location: Southeast Uplift, 3534 SE Main, Portland, 97214

Learn how to build your own rain garden! We’ll explore the critical role rain gardens can play in urban stream restoration, and how they add beautiful landscaping to your yard at the same time.

You will learn how to assess your site to determine the best location and size, calculate impervious surfaces, determine soil suitability, choose appropriate plants, and how to maintain your new rain garden. You will also receive a comprehensive manual that guides you through all the steps in constructing your rain garden. Where possible, workshop includes a short tour of a nearby rain garden. RSVP for this event!


Alien Plant Invader: Garlic Mustard

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An update on successful efforts to fight this plant, and what you can do to help

Garlic mustard.  You’ve probably heard of it.  You’ve maybe seen it.  It might even be in your neighborhood.  It has been a priority invasive species in Portland since 2004. 

Managing this invasive plant involves coordination across three counties and multiple agencies, including the Oregon State Weed Board and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.  Individual Portlanders and neighborhood groups are also providing critical help.

There’s still work to do and it is difficult to see changes from year to year, especially for a weed as adaptable, persistent and widespread as garlic mustard. But, we’ve made improvements on many fronts.

The numbers of plants are down substantially all over town, and particularly on the west side. In recent years, there were sizeable infestations along roads like Germantown, Skyline, and Burnside. Now plants are scattered, patches are small, and our crews don’t have as much to treat as they walk miles of roadside. These “walking tours” will continue into the foreseeable future, to prevent re-infestation and to tamp down flare-ups.

Photo: Garlic mustard along Skyline Boulevard in the West Hills of Portland

The City of Portland is intensifying its garlic mustard control efforts along streams with known infestations, while all partner organizations are increasing their surveys in peripheral areas. The West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District and Portland Parks have made important gains following and treating garlic mustard deep in previously unmanaged areas.

In addition, a few neighborhoods have committed to hand pulling certain stretches of road. These efforts have been quite successful, setting a model for other neighborhoods to adopt and adapt. (Check out the Skyline Ridge Neighbors).

Visit  to learn more about what the plant looks like, some of the lookalike species, garlic mustard’s growth phases, and updates on treatment and management. We hope the last item will provide insight about why we are taking specific steps. Our treatment season normally starts in April and wraps up in June, though we may be starting a little earlier in 2015.


Green Streets and Our River 3/18


Swing by the Green Dragon to chat with Willamette Riverkeeper

neighbors cleaning greenstreet facility

Want to learn more about how you can make a difference in your Portland neighborhood to promote clean water and protect the Willamette River? Join Willamette Riverkeeper and staff from Bureau of Environmental Services for a conversation about the many programs and projects that make Portland so green. Learn about the city's work to promote trees, rain gardens and green street planters, ecoroofs, Green Street Stewards, and ways you can play an active role in protecting your rivers and streams.

Wednesday, March 18th

6:00-7:30 pm

Green Dragon Bistro and Pub in the “Barrel Room”

928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, OR

For more information, contact:

This event is free and pre-registration is not required.

Learn more and comment on Portland's Climate Action Plan


Reducing carbon emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change

Setting an international example, Portlanders have cut carbon emissions by 14 percent since 1990, even though our population has grown by 30 percent and we’ve added over 75,000 more jobs during that same time. In per-person terms, that means each Portlander produces 35 percent less carbon than they did in 1990.

tree graphicAll of our biking, tree planting, transit use, and home efficiency efforts make a difference.  There's still a lot more to do, though.  The goal is to reduce our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.  That requires an updated plan, and it's ready for your review and comment.

The City of Portland and Multnomah County have released the draft 2015 Climate Action Plan for public comment. The draft plan provides a roadmap for the community to achieve aggressive carbon reduction goals by 2030 and 2050.  It also includes strategies for adapting to climate change, drawn from the Climate Change Risk and Vulnerabilities Assessment and Preparation Strategy adopted by City Council last year. 

The Plan is also a great educational resource to brush up on issues around climate change, including what individuals in Portland can do to help, and how our community will be impacted by a changing climate. Many community leaders and local experts helped create the draft plan.

Visit to find additional information and download a copy of the draft plan. Comments from the public are accepted through April 10, 2015.

You can also learn more, ask questions, and provide input at one of these open house events:

•          March 19th at the Velo Cult Bike Shop (5:30 to 7:30PM, 1969 NE 42nd Ave.) (event link)

•          March 24th at the June Key Delta Community Center (5:30 to 7:30 PM, 5940 North Albina St.) (event link)


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, 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 (], via Wikimedia Commons)