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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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Beaver at work in Tryon Creek


We thought you might like this beaver dam photo from an earlier, slightly warmer day this fall.  (Don't worry, our field crews are looking a little more bundled up this week.)

scientists at beaver dam in Tryon Creek  beaver dam from downstream

In September, we shared a story about lamprey in Tryon Creek.  On that same visit, Environmental Services staff discovered this brand new beaver dam in the creek.  This new work of natural art and engineering is between the Tryon Creek confluence with the Willamette River and Highway 43.

Learn more about why it’s good to see beaver activity in Portland’s streams in stories from Johnson Creek and Stephens Creek.

Check out this PBS documentary, Leave it to Beavers.  

Naturescaping and Rain Gardens Wokshops a Success

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Dozens participate in October workshops sponsored by East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District

More than 60 area residents participated in East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District’s October workshops on Naturescaping & Rain Gardens, sponsored by Environmental Services and held at the Southeast Uplift office.

Over coffee and snacks, participants learned firsthand from skilled landscape design professionals about how to prepare for projects on their property. Workshops covered basic site planning principles, interactive site selection for rain gardens, background on selecting native plants, tools for evaluating soil and removing sod, maintenance tips, and a field trip to a model naturescaping and rain garden project on the SE Uplift campus.

If you’re interested in participating in future workshops, go to the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District website for more information. There are a few November classes remaining and there will be more classes in spring.

If you can’t attend a workshop, you can take advantage of basic tips on both Naturescaping and Rain Gardens. And if you manage stormwater on your property with a rain garden, you may be eligible for up to 100% off your on-site stormwater charge through Clean River Rewards.

Instructor Lora Price helps participants choose the best site for a rain garden.

Participants learn about appropriate plants, like the Red Twig Dogwood

Alien Plant Invader: False Brome


This invasive grass is hitchhiking around town.

false brome in forestThis month’s featured invasive plant might test your plant identification skills.  False brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) is a bright green, fuzzy grass that is spreading across western Oregon and is up to no good.

While most grasses seem to avoid shady spots, false brome can thrive in many environments, including open and forested areas, roadsides, and stream banks. Once it makes itself at home, false brome can displace native understory plants and make it difficult for young trees to grow.  False brome may also increase fuel for wildfire and is not a good food source for native wildlife or livestock.

False brome made its debut in the U.S. near Eugene, Oregon in 1939, and has since spread across much of the Willamette Valley and SW Oregon. It is a required eradication species in Portland (see the Portland Plant List), a Class B noxious weed in Oregon, and a class A noxious weed in Washington.  While false brome is widespread in much of western Oregon, it is still relatively rare in Portland.  We need your help to keep it that way. 

How does false brome get around? The grass has abundant seeds that like to hitchhike on animal fur, hiker clothing and shoes, and vehicles. Seeds can also travel in waterways.  

     false brome flowers     false brome's fuzzy leaf

Grasses are tricky to identify, but false brome gives itself away with a few distinguishing characteristics.  False brome is a perennial bunchgrass that is capable of forming a solid carpet. It can reach up to 36 inches high, and it remains a distinct bright green color through much of the year. In June through September, the flower heads droop on the end of a wiry stem, and each flower in the flower head is attached to the stem with little to no stalk (see photo above left). 

False brome leaves are fuzzy, flat and wide, and when you hold them up to the light, you can see the hairs along the leaf edges. The lower stem is also fuzzy.

false brome plant

What can you do?  To remove false brome, dig up any small patches before they flower, but be sure to remove all the roots!  It’s also a good idea to cut off flower heads in June, to keep the seeds from spreading.  For larger patches, mid-summer to fall treatments with herbicides can be effective. For any treatment, follow up is highly recommended for several growing seasons. Before you take action, please contact Mitch Bixby at Environmental Services to discuss options and make sure the suspect is indeed false brome, and not a native grass. 


For more information, visit the City of Portland false brome website. King County, Washington also has more information and photographs.

Invasive species affect us all. They damage our forests, our streams and rivers, and our 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, but we need everyone’s help.  Read more here about the problems caused by invasive species and why BES is particularly concerned about their impact on water quality.

Catch up on previous Alien Plant Invader posts:


Saturday’s Salmon Celebration at Westmoreland Park: Pictures and News


Another Stage of Crystal Springs Restoration is Complete

speakers at the Westmoreland Park celebrationA little rain and wind didn’t deter Portlanders from turning out last Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of Westmoreland Park’s pond restoration and nature play areas. Environmental Services worked with Portland Parks & Recreation, the Army Corps of Engineers and many other partners to restore a more natural flow in Crystal Springs Creek through Westmoreland Park.

Now there is a beautiful natural area in place of a concrete duck pond, and already the salmon are coming back. We couldn’t have timed the celebration any better.

coho salmon in Crystal SpringsCoho salmon showed up earlier this month and were present at the party, along with other distinguished guests, including US Representative Earl Blumenauer, Commissioner Nick Fish, Judy BlueHorse Skelton (PSU Professor of Indigenous Studies), Colonel Jose Aguilar (Army Corps of Engineers Portland District Engineer and Commander), Delores Pigsley (Confederated Tribes of Siletz Tribal Chair), John George (Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde Tribal Chair), Carlotta Collette (Metro Counselor), Mike Abbate (Portland Parks & Recreation Director), and Jane Bacchieri (Environmental Services Watershed Services Manager).   

Here's a glimpse of before and after at Westmoreland Park.  In 2012, the concrete-lined creek and pond.  In 2014, the area is transformed to a natural creek and wetlands:

pond before restoration  pond is restored to natural creek and wetlands

The Westmoreland Park restoration is part of the overall effort to restore Crystal Springs Creek, a tributary to Johnson Creek in southeast Portland. So far, seven of the nine culverts blocking fish passage and impacting water quality along Crystal Springs have been removed or replaced. The final two culverts, at SE Bybee Street and SE Glenwood Boulevard will be constructed next summer. A project to manage stormwater from SE Tacoma Street will be constructed next spring to protect water quality in the area.

Learn more about the Crystal Springs projects at

Check out more coverage and great photos from the big event and the salmon spawning:



Check out the Fall 2014 Newsletter for the Portland Brownfield Program

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Get an update on volunteer activities, funding opportunities and current news articles

The Portland Brownfield Program now has an online newsletter and will release a new edition every quarter.  Visit to read the Fall 2014 edition and sign up to receive the newsletter by email.

Volunteers from the Oregon Food Bank collect soil samples. Learn more here.