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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.


Before and After: SW Huber Green Street

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The new green street facility in Southwest Portland will help reduce flooding and protect water quality

Environmental Services recently completed construction on a green street facility on SW Huber Street near Quail Post Road to reduce flooding problems and protect water quality in local streams. The storm drain was too small to handle heavy stormwater flow and clogged easily with leaves and other debris. This caused stormwater to pool, flow over the curb and cause flooding problems for downstream property owners. The fast-flowing stormwater also carried pollution from SW Huber Street to Quail and Tryon creeks.

The vegetated green street on SW Huber collects and slows stormwater runoff. Stormwater will flow into the green street and native plants will filter pollutants before it flows to Quail and Tryon creeks.


                                   before                                                                             after

The City of Portland is a recognized leader in green stormwater management. There are 1400-1500 individual green street facilities throughout Portland. Green infrastructure such as green streets keeps stormwater out of the sewer system, filters pollutants, provides habitat and increases neighborhood green space for healthier watersheds. To learn more about various approaches to Sustainable Stormwater Management visit our website.

The Westmoreland Park Grand Reopening and Salmon Celebration is this Saturday, October 25th

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Coho salmon are Spawning in Crystal Springs - and it's Time to Celebrate

The restoration of Crystal Springs Creek through Westmoreland Park and the long-awaited Nature Play Area, are now complete, and on October 25th these projects—and the return of salmon to the city—will be celebrated with a party in the park.

The Celebration will take place from 11a.m. to 4p.m. and will feature a salmon bake, lamprey tasters, tours, native games, a formal speaking program (from 11:30am-12:30), and a wide range of family-friendly activities – including Claudia Chinook, a 29-foot long, 14-foot tall, 2,800-pound educational salmon display.

And who knows, maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of the two coho spotted in Crystal Springs just downstream of the Park this weekend!  See if you can find them in the attached photo…for more information, take a look at the link from the Johnson Creek Watershed Council here.