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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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Slough Celebration Awards Recognize BES Staff and Projects


Big accomplishments in 2014 for a healthier Columbia Slough

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s Annual Slough celebration was a great party last week. We’re honored that the Council recognized several Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) staff for their outstanding contributions to the Columbia Slough. 

BES staff receiving awardRandy Belston, from the BES Water Pollution Control Lab received the Council’s 2014 Leadership Award for his extraordinary, long-term commitment to the Slough. 

Randy was recognized for his development of an innovative and hands-on partnership with Roosevelt High School that connects students with the BES lab while promoting environmental awareness and family wage environmental career opportunities in their own neighborhood. Along with Mike Bauer and other science teachers at Roosevelt, Randy has led students through hands-on job based learning experiences. He also paved the way for a Roosevelt student to work as a summer lab intern. Randy’s multi-year commitment to protecting our waterways and connecting students to meaningful work epitomizes effective leadership.

The Mason Flats Project and Colwood Property Project received the night’s other two awards.

Mason Flats project team receiving awardThe team of Sean Bistoff, Chris Lastomirsky, Dave Helzer, Brad Huard, Patty Nelson, Ryan Durocher, Ken Finney, and Susan Barthel from BES, as well as Lynn Barlow and Mart Hughes from Portland Parks & Recreation were recognized for the innovative stormwater wetlands project at Mason Flats. Read more about that project in our previous posts here and here.  In designing the project, the team planned for beavers to add their own dams and improve the flow of water naturally over time.

Don Goldberg from the Trust for Public Land was recognized as the driving force that stitched together the agreements that resulted in the Colwood Golf Course property coming into public ownership. The agreement stipulates that 1/3 of the site will be developed, 1/3 will be an active park site, and 1/3 will be preserved for natural area to improve water quality and drainage. BES’s staff and leadership, as well as staff from Portland Parks & Recreation played critical roles in the acquisition.   

For more info and some humorous videos about the awardees, check out the Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s news story.  We're looking forward to another year of great accomplishments with partners in the Slough.

Photos thanks to Kenny Macdonald of Recorded History.

Rain barrel information


With a little planning, rain barrels can be part of your strategy to manage the rain and save water

single wooden rain barrelThis is a time of year when many Portlanders are thinking about the rain, looking at their yards, and dreaming of this year’s new garden (hark, the arrival of the seed catalogs!).

Rain barrels take a little extra planning in Portland, since we have a lot of rain in some seasons, and very little over the summer when landscaping needs irrigation. Most of the winter and spring, the barrels are just overflowing and need a safe place for the water to go.  But, they can still be great tools to manage the rain on your property and save a little bit on your stormwater and water bill.

Check out this Rain Barrels Guide from Environmental Services.

And, a new article from the Sightline Institute, A Green Light for Using Rain Barrel Water on Garden Edibles, provides some great information about recent research about rain barrels and roof runoff, answering the question Is it safe to use rain-barrel water collected from your roof to irrigate homegrown lettuces, strawberries, and tomatoes? 

We urge careful consideration of your roofing material and any chemical use before deciding to use rain barrel water on your edible plants.  The article provides some good tips and information about keeping your barrels clean.

series of blue rain barrelsRain barrel systems can range from a single wooden barrel (top) to a more complex series of connected barrels that save more water.  Either way, make sure the overflow has somewhere safe to go away from your foundation and others' property.  

Get involved at Crystal Springs


Dig in the dirt and help the native plants take off this winter and spring

young volunteer working at park

Excited about the salmon returning to Crystal Springs, and wondering how you can get more involved?

Every month a fun group of volunteers is gathering to care for the newly restored natural areas in Westmoreland Park and other sites along Crystal Springs in SE Portland. 

The events are typically the 4th Sunday of each month, organized by the Crystal Springs Partnership.  Anyone is welcome to join.  It’s a great way to get outside in this mild weather and help our parks look good.


In December, the group spruced up the “Brannen property," near SE 21st and Umatilla, where a new pocket natural area park was due for a weeding and some re-planting. 

volunteer digging weeds  new mulch and happy plants

In January, the group turned its attention to Westmoreland Park. The natural area was just completed last fall.  Volunteer help to head off weeds and nurture the new plants this spring will help Westmoreland Park look great this summer.

group of volunteers at Westmoreland Park  Taking care of Westmoreland Park

Get involved!  The next events are Sunday, February 22 (9 a.m. - noon) and Saturday, March 7.

Find out more on the Crystal Springs Partnership website:

Or follow the news and events on Facebook at CrystalSpringsPartnership


Dozens attend first Tryon-Stephens Headwaters Street Plan Open House

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If you didn't attend, there's still a chance to review project materials and provide input - find the information here.

On January 26th, over 70 community members attended the first Tryon-Stephens Street Plan project open house. They shared ideas about what street and stormwater improvements they’d like to see in and around the project area, watched a short presentation on the project (access the slides here), and learned about the project through several display boards set up around the room (see the display boards here).

If you missed the open house but would like to get more information, provide input and respond to the project survey, you can check out the Tryon-Stephens Headwaters Neighborhood Street Plan website. There will be another open house in the Spring 2015. We welcome your input.

Background: The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) are working together on the Tryon-Stephens Headwaters Neighborhood Street Plan. The objective of the street plan is to establish a more connected local street and pathway network and to improve stormwater management systems within the area. Recommendations made in this plan will reflect community priorities and suggestions to achieve our transportation and stormwater goals. Recommendations may include:

•             Refine the primary walking and bicycling routes

•             Identify new connections (right of way)

•             Categorize streets by their character/context

•             Integrate PBOT and BES tools and coordinating investments

Find out more: Tryon-Stephens Headwaters Neighborhood Street Plan

Early hints of spring: the weeds are back


It's time to watch out for invasive plants like spurge laurel

Even though the groundhog's prediction is for six more weeks of winter, now is a good time to keep a lookout for invasive plants here in Portland.

In keeping with the Groundhog Day movie theme of repeating reality, the cycles of invasive plants repeat each year.  They just keep popping up...  Here's one you may see blooming right now:

close up of spurge laurel flowers

Does it look familiar? If so, check out our previous post to learn more about how to identify and control this invader: Spurge laurel.