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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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Johnson Creek Watershed Wide Event: March 5


Get a jump on spring and join the community planting blitz

March 5 is Watershed Wide – the Johnson Creek Watershed Council's largest planting event of the year – and your help is needed! 

group of volunteers

Watershed Wide is an epic day of volunteerism coordinated by the Johnson Creek Watershed Council and partners at Portland Parks and Recreation, City of Gresham, Friends of Trees, Friends of Tideman Johnson, and the Crystal Springs Partnership.

This community event brings together hundreds of Johnson Creek supporters at ten different work sites that span the entire length of the watershed, from inner-SE Portland to Gresham and Boring.

It’s a great excuse for exercise and fresh air, and your help will add to the efforts making Johnson Creek healthier for people, salmon and other wildlife.

Date and time: March 5, 9am – 12pm, followed by a pizza lunch 

Location: Multiple sites (see map and register for a specific site)  

More details:  Tools, gloves, snacks, and instruction will be provided at each site. Children are welcome to join in with parental supervision. 

Event sponsor: Clackamas Water Environment Services

For more information:, email Danielle Miles at, or call 503-652-7477.

Slough 101 Coming in March

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Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for the annual workshop on Saturday, March 12th, 2016 from 9:00AM-12:45PM.

Do you live, work or play near the Columbia Slough?  Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for the annual Slough 101 workshop on Saturday, March 12th, 2016 from 9:00AM-12:45PM.


This free hands-on workshop explores the unique character, challenges and opportunities of the urban Columbia Slough watershed.  You’ll learn about soil & sediment in relation to water quality, how the Slough has changed over time, and what the changes mean for fish, wildlife, people and businesses.  Open to everyone interested in learning more about the Columbia Slough watershed.

Pre-registration required at

Hands-on activities include:

  • Explore Macroinvertebrates (water bugs) that live in the Slough.
  • Simulate and predict aquifer conditions with an interactive groundwater model.
  • Test water quality through dissolved oxygen, temperature, and PH levels.
  • Tour the water pollution control lab facility.

Workshop participants try to identify macroinvertebrates

collected from the Columbia Slough.

Slough 101

When and Where:

Date: Saturday, March 12, 2016
Time: 9:00AM – 12:45PM (Registration begins at 8:45AM)
Location: City of Portland Water Pollution Control Lab |
6543 N Burlington Ave, Portland, OR 97203


Spring Cleaning at Flavel Ridge Wetland

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Environmental Services is working to stop illegal dumping that's threatening water quality and habitat in the Johnson Creek watershed

Flavel Ridge Wetland

On a sunny day last week, when the first red flowering currants were just beginning to bloom, a tucked-away city property got a much needed spring cleaning.

Flavel Ridge Wetland, near Johnson Creek on the Portland-Clackamas border, is home to Oregon salamanders, beaver, great blue heron, and even musk monkey flower, a native plant rare in the Portland area. Fed by groundwater seeps, and partially impounded by a beaver dam, the wetland provides cool, clean water to Johnson Creek year-round.

Oregon salamander safely relocated during recent cleanup

Because of its important role in maintaining cool water temperatures in Johnson Creek - especially critical during hot summer months - the Bureau of Environmental Services purchased the property in 2012. Since then, our revegetation team has begun removing invasive plants like Himalayan blackberry and clematis, and has planted 850 native trees and 1,050 shrubs.

Unfortunately, we recently noticed that tires and other debris had been illegally dumped in and around the wetland. It took a crew of five people the better part of a day to pull 131 tires out of the pond and haul furniture, rugs, drywall, televisions and other debris off the site. In total, over 5,000 pounds of debris was removed and recycled or properly disposed. We are now implementing deterrents to dumping at this site.

Tires racked up behind the beaver dam

Approximately a quarter of the tires removed from the property

Illegal dumping is a persistent problem across the metro area, and it impacts water quality and habitat in our natural areas. Please do your part and call police if you observe illegal dumping actively occurring. Do not confront the dumper directly. To report materials that have already been dumped call Metro at 503-234-3000 or report it online:

FREE Rain Garden and Native Plant Workshops

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East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District is offering another series of workshops for Portland homeowners

Every year, the staff at East Multnomah County Soil & Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) provide FREE rain garden and nature education 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 and the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association will host a series of these workshops for residents of neighborhoods where managing stormwater on private property is an important part of current sewer rehabilitation projects.  

Rain Gardens 101 | Saturday, March 12 | 9:00AM – 1:00PM

Southeast Uplift, 3534 SE Main

Registration Required

Rain Gardens 101 | Saturday, March 26 | 9:00AM – 1:00PM

Hollywood Senior Center, 3534 SE Main

Registration Required

Learn how to build your own rain garden! Explore how rain gardens can benefit urban stream restoration and add beautiful landscaping to your yard at the same time. Learn how to choose the right spot, size and plants for your rain garden. The workshop includes a manual that guides you through all the rain garden construction steps. 

 Urban Weeds Workshop | Tuesday, March 22 | 6:00 – 8:30PM

 Southeast Uplift, 3534 SE Main

 Registration Required

 Weeds – we all have them! Learn how to identify the most common garden weeds and other notorious plant invaders. We’ll show you how some of these aggressive plants can take over in your yard  and how you can get the upper hand.

Native Plant Workshop | Saturday, April 2 | 9:00AM – 11:30AM

Southeast Uplift, 3534 SE Main

Registration Required

Find out about the many benefits of gardening with native plants! Learn which native ground covers, shrubs and trees and how to plant them..


Urban apartments can have nature, too


A cement courtyard becomes a hard-working rain garden and haven for birds

rain garden full of water

Environmental Services works with property owners in targeted areas in Portland to install rain gardens that help relieve local sewer problems.

apartment courtyard before project

apartment courtyard rain garden

A recent project in the Sunnyside neighborhood near SE 28th Avenue and Salmon Street removed about 500 square feet of asphalt and turned a bleak, urban courtyard area into a community asset. A rain garden, drywell, and patio made with pervious pavers replaced the asphalt area.

Now runoff from roof and paved areas soaks into the ground to keep stormwater runoff out of the sewer system, and apartment tenants have a natural, outdoor space to enjoy.

It was important to the property owner to plant a mix of native species to create habitat for beneficial pollinators and birds. The project directs runoff from 4,350 square feet of roof and paved area to the rain garden, and the 200 square foot patio lets rain soak through its pervious pavers into the ground to reduce stormwater runoff.

The rain garden keeps over 100,000 gallons of stormwater out of the sewer system every year to help reduce sewer backups, replenish groundwater and improve watershed health.  

Environmental Services uses partnerships like this to solve sewer capacity issues in neighborhoods with old, undersized pipes. These partnerships also save money for Portland sewer ratepayers by reducing sewer maintenance and wastewater treatment costs.

Photos: The rain garden was already hard at work in the December and January record rains (top). 

Before the project (middle).

After the project (bottom).