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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

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

Bringing Back the River View Forest


50,000 new native plants are soaking up the rain this spring.

worker planting native plantsBack in January, we showed you the cooler where half a million bare-root trees and shrubs were waiting to be planted across the region’s natural areas. 


We’re happy to report that more than 50,000 of them are now in the ground at River View Natural Area in southwest Portland! This natural area has seven streams that carry clean water to the Willamette River, but decades without vegetation management left the site over-run with invasive species (like English ivy).  This threatens the native tree canopy and leaves the steep hillsides vulnerable to erosion that can pollute the water.  


workers planting native plants in the forest

The native plants were locally sourced and largely planted by R. Franco Reforestation.  Volunteers with Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R) were also out in February to help with the planting. 


This builds on the last three years of work to fight back the invasive species.   Partnership between PP&R, Environmental Services’ Watershed Revegetation Program and community volunteers has helped reduce the invasive species by over 95% in some areas.  


Check out our post with before and after photos of the invasive plant control work in progress.


This season’s planting at River View included nine species of trees such as Douglas fir, Pacific dogwood and Western red cedar.  Twenty species of shrubs rounded out the effort, with species like salmonberry, snowberry, Indian plum and pacific ninebark now in the ground to help create a healthy ecosystem.  This will help protect water quality, prevent erosion and landslides, and restore a lush forest that soaks up the rain for generations to come. 

Western red cedar seedling

Thanks to all of our partners for digging in to help!




Columbia Slough 101: March 15


Get to know this unique waterway in North and Northeast Portland!

Columbia Slough confluence with Willamette RiverHave you ever wondered about the slough as you drive over it on the way to the airport? Wondered how all the water is managed to prevent flooding? Wondered where you can put in a canoe for a peaceful paddle trip to see eagles and Great Blue Herons?  

Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council March 15 for Slough 101, a FREE workshop about the Columbia Slough watershed and its unique story.

Slough 101 covers local history, water, wildlife, and current issues in the watershed with eight local experts. Explore watershed health, environmental issues and recreation in North and NE Portland, Gresham and Fairview. The day also includes hands-on activities, levee and pump station tours and macroinvertebrate identification.

Pre-registration is required. The workshop is free and sponsored by the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau.

Light refreshments will be provided. Suitable for adults and teens 14 & up.

Day and Time:
Saturday March 15, 9am - 12: 45pm
Multnomah County Drainage District
1880 NE Elrod Dr
Portland, OR 97211
FREE; Registration Required

More information:


Penny Beckwith, Outreach Director, ColumbiaSloughWatershed Council   503.281.1132


Looking Back at the Glencoe Rain Garden

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These stormwater management projects have prevented sewer problems for over 10 years

All this heavy rain lately is making us think about the Glencoe Rain Garden in SE Portland. In 2013, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of its installation, and 10 years since fixing a difficult problem.  

In the 1990's and early 2000's, residents of the Mount Tabor neighborhood along SE 53rd Avenue were experiencing frequent sewage flooding in their basements. Environmental Services studied the problems with the sewer system in that area and found that the pipes, built in 1937, were not large enough. Too much stormwater was running off area streets and parking lots and into the pipes, causing sewage to backup in the basements of homes along the block.


Pre- construction photos, 2002

There were two solutions to the problem - replace and enlarge the pipes in the area, or construct facilities on the surface to slow and retain the runoff so it doesn't reach the sewer pipes. After extensive analysis, the City partnered with Portland Public Schools and Glencoe Elementary School to design an innovative bioswale and rain garden that captures runoff, slows it down, and keeps it from entering the sewer and contributing to back up.. (See the project fact sheet here). The project was completed in 2003.


Post-construction photos, 2004

Now, 10 years later, the facility continues to do its job! Here’s what we know:

  • No basement backups in the area have been reported in 10 years
  • The plants and soils in the facility are soaking up 85% of the annual volume of runoff, and reducing the annual peak flow by 80% (it's doing very well)
  • The native soil and plants used in the facility are performing well
  • By design, any pollutants from the street runoff are concentrated at the forebay of the facility (where the water first enters). This is keeping these pollutants out of our sewer system and rivers, and we closely monitor the levels in the soil to make sure it stays safe 

In addition to providing residents and students with access to a pleasant, park-like setting, the rain garden serves as an extension of the school's outdoor classroom and butterfly garden.



Climate Change Preparation Strategy: Open for Public Comment


Green infrastructure is part Portland's strategy to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Preparation Strategy CoverWe're pleased to announce that the City of Portland and Multnomah County’s new draft Climate Change Preparation Strategy is open for comment. Technical experts, organizations, businesses and members of the public are encouraged to provide feedback on the documents.

Portland City Council and Multnomah County commissioners will consider adopting the documents later this year.

The draft materials describe how climate change will affect the region and what actions are proposed to improve resiliency and to protect communities.

How are we going to deal with hotter, drier summers, and warmer, wetter winters?

residential ecoroofStrategies include reducing climate impacts on vulnerable populations, and using more green infrastructure, such as ecoroofs, green streets, and trees to reduce the urban heat island effect.  One tool could be adopting development performance standards similar to Seattle's Green Factor.  Other strategies center around further protecting and restoring our natural systems, like streams, forests and floodplains. 

Many of these strategies are already being implemented in Portland to manage stormwater, improve water quality, and store carbon, but in the face of climate change, we may need to do more. 


Visit: for more information about the strategy and how to comment. Comments are due by April 11, 2014.

The Climate Preparation Strategy is linked to the City of Portland and Multnomah County Climate Action Plan, which integrates the City and County’s work to slow the effects of climate change while also preparing for the impacts that we will experience. Portland and Multnomah County are currently in the process of updating the Climate Action Plan, which was originally adopted in 2009. Visit Portland’s Climate Action website to learn more about the Climate Action Plan update project and other existing climate efforts.



What is stormwater, and why should you care about it?


This neat video explains stormwater in a city 2,800 miles away, and it sounds familiar!

While we like to brag about Portland's work for clean water and green infrastructure, sometimes it's good to see what other cities are doing to address stormwater problems and how they're telling people about it.

We recently came across this video from Durham, North Carolina that has a great explanation of the water cycle and what stormwater fees pay for.  Check it out! 

samping water in a streamDurham's approach is similar to Portland's stormwater fees, and the water quality testing, pipe maintenance, education and stream restoration we do here at Environmental Services. 

Durham, similar to Portland (and Durham, Oregon!), has rain hitting the pavement and turning into stormwater runoff to local waterways.  And, by the looks of their Stormwater Services Facebook page, they're doing a lot of great work planting trees, encouraging rain gardens and restoring watersheds.  Way to go, Durham.


Photo: City of Durham, NC

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