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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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Salamanders in Forest Park


Improving water quality and habitat for Portland's wildlife and people

Sometimes, cute critter pictures are in order. These were taken recently in Forest Park, when Environmental Services and Parks Urban Forestry staff were collecting information at the sites where some culverts are scheduled to be replaced in 2017.

They found three different kinds of salamanders in and around the streams that flow through culverts under Leif Erickson Drive:

red-backed salamander Red-backed salamander

Ensatina salamanderEnsatina salamander

Dunn's salamanderDunn's salamander 

Forest Park is an important regional habitat anchor, with over 100 species of birds and 62 species of mammals, as well as reptiles, amphibians and many other creatures. The forest protects the streams that provide relatively clean, cool water to the Willamette River.

Old, failing culverts cause erosion that harms water quality and habitat. The old culverts also threaten to wash out completely during large rainstorms. That happened to one culvert in 2010, washing large amounts of sediment downstream and causing an emergency closure of Leif Erickson Drive, creating a risk for emergency fire and rescue vehicles. Environmental Services and Parks are teaming up on proactive replacement of some priority culverts in Forest Park to avoid costly emergency repairs, protect water quality and improve aquatic habitat.

Learn more about conditions in the Willamette Tributaries watersheds - where Forest Park is located - in the Watershed Report Cards.

Find out more about Forest Park’s resources, trails, and efforts to restore the park on Portland Parks and Recreation’s website and through the Forest Park Conservancy.

Welcome Home to Vanport


Hike, Bike, Listen, Learn at the Vanport Mosaic Festival this weekend

aerial view of 1948 Vanport Flood Every year in May, we remember the catastrophic flood of 1948 that destroyed the community of Vanport in North Portland.  Vanport housed 100,000 people, but disappeared when the Columbia River and Columbia Slough flooded.  It’s a reminder of how nature shapes our communities and history. 

This weekend, check out the Vanport Mosaic Festival for film screenings, theater, tours and more. 

On Monday, May 30, join the Welcome Home to Vanport activities and tour.

The day includes a self-guided walk or bike tour, speakers and exhibits at Portland International Raceway, part of historic Vanport city. You can hear from historians, a Kaiser family member and former Vanport residents.

May 30, Memorial Day, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Portland International Raceway, 1940 N. Victory Blvd


Bring folding chair if possible

Find out more on the Facebook Event 

MAX: Yellow Line to Delta Park/Vanport Station, walk to PIR grandstand area

Driving: North on I-5, use Exit 306B.  South on I-5, use Exit 306. Follow signs to PIR. Drive to parking inside PIR’s gates.

More info at

Portland's Tree Planting: Actions for Equity

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new trees along street with no curb

(post edited on May 25, 2016 for factual correction)

Since 2008, Environmental Services’ Tree Program has planted over 40,000 new trees along the streets, in yards and other Portland neighborhood spots. From the start, efforts have focused on outreach to plant street trees in low-canopy, low-income neighborhoods, which are also some of Portland’s more racially diverse communities.

The effort to plant trees in underserved neighborhoods is often impeded by lack of planting strips and by unimproved frontages – streets without sidewalks or sometimes without curbs.

David Douglas students planting treeEven with these and other challenges, outreach and partnership efforts gained steam. 87% of the trees planted in 2013-15 were in low-canopy, low-income communities and communities of color. 

The increased tree canopy cover where it is most needed helps provide all residents with long-term benefits such as improved air quality and stormwater management, lower summer temperatures, and better health outcomes.

Thanks to all of our partners working to add trees to the city for cleaner rivers and livable, sustainable communities.Tree planting equity map

Endangered Species Day


Portlanders' work for clean rivers and streams helps threatened and endangered species in our area

It's Endangered Species Day - a good day to reflect on all the things we do in Portland to protect and restore our native fish and wildlife habitat. In Portland, 15 fish species are listed under the Endangered Species Act.  Listed salmon and steelhead are found in 127 miles of Portland’s rivers and streams.  Learn more about the issues and what we’re doing here.

Check out this video of a project Environmental Services​ did last year to improve habitat and water quality for juvenile salmon that take refuge in the Lower Columbia Slough as they migrate. The log jams are upstream of Kelley Point Park.

Tree planting at Lincoln Park Elementary


students planting treesgirls planting tree

This spring, staff from the Environmental Services Tree Program spent the afternoon with Lincoln Park Elementary students planting seven trees on the school’s property. The 30 students are members of the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) after school gardening program and had the opportunity to not only have fun getting their hands dirty, but also learn about the trees and how they will benefit their school.

schoolyard trees

The group planted two cork oaks, two Jefferson elms, two big leaf maples, and a western red cedar. Some of the trees even got new names from the students: Snowcone, Awesome Tree, and Kevin.

The focus of the planting was to beautify the grounds and provide access to an ongoing learning opportunity for the students, and to provide much needed shade for south-facing classrooms. The trees will also provide shade for students at recess, habitat for wildlife, stormwater management, and—as one recent study has shown—may help reduce student stress levels and improve concentration.

The local contractor Treecology will water and prune the trees for the next few years to ensure they are well established and provide benefits for generations of Lincoln Park Elementary students to come. Treecology also sourced the trees and helped the group plant.

staff and students discussing treesThanks to Marc, our Confluence AmeriCorps Member, and the SUN educators who worked together to organize the planting!