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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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February open house reveals new concepts and plans for the future of the Central Eastside

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The FREE event takes place at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center on Thursday, February 19th, from 4-7 p.m.

Join the SE Quadrant planning team at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC) on February 19 to learn about the future of the Central Eastside. View maps, images and diagrams, and read and comment on the goals, policies and actions that have been developed over the last year and a half. Input from the open house, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and other Central Eastside stakeholders will help shape the SE Quadrant Draft Plan to be released in March.

You’ll be able to learn more and share your ideas about how the plan will:

  • Provide greater flexibility for new industrial uses, activate MAX light rail station areas, and enhance and connect areas of the district.
  • Address parking needs and improve key freight, bicycle and pedestrian corridors.
  • Continue to develop the riverfront as a destination and enhance river habitat.
  • Provide park-like spaces and green infrastructure.

Environmental Services completed the SE Clay Green Street project last year and is part of the planning team for the Southeast Quad working to identify opportunities for improvements, including green infrastructure. The open house will include areas identified as priorities for green roofs, green streets, and trees to help manage stormwater runoff in the area.

Photo: Stormwater plaza at PCC CLIMB Center, SE Clay and Water Ave in the Central Eastside.

Attendees are invited to explore the exhibits of historic train engines, and Rail Heritage Center staff will be on hand to answer questions. Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

SE Quadrant Open House
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Oregon Rail Heritage Center, 2250 SE Water Ave
Parking: There is a parking lot available west of SE Water Ave on SE Caruthers Street.

Frog eggs for Valentine’s Day?

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Nothing says “love” to scientists like amphibian eggs in Portland’s waterways

frog egg mass in Johnson Creek  tree frog eggs closeup 

rough skinned newt under water

Nothing says “love” to scientists like amphibian eggs in Portland’s waterways. 

These pictures show egg masses for red-legged frogs (left) and Pacific tree frog (right), as well as a rough-skinned newt underwater.

Environmental Services scientists found these while monitoring for amphibian populations at Johnson Creek restoration sites

We monitor amphibians, like native salamanders, newts and frogs, to track the success of restoration projects and overall conditions in local streams.  Amphibians are an indicator of water quality conditions – they are very sensitive to pollution. 


Planting Trees by Bike!

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Sunnyside neighborhood draws nearly 100 volunteers for Friends of Trees planting event

Many Portlanders are familiar with local non-profit Friends of Trees (FOT) and their prodigious planting programs. Since 1989, FOT has planted more than 500,000 trees in the Portland-Vancouver and Eugene-Springfield metro areas. Over the last several years, FOT has partnered with the Bureau of Environmental Services Tree Program and the Tabor to the River Program to help extend the benefits of the urban forest to even more Portlanders.

Just a few years ago, FOT devised an even greener and more fun way to plant:  by bike!  Aside from reducing carbon emissions, the joy of riding bikes with your neighbors adds to the planting experience. Volunteers at neighborhood planting events get to spend time with their neighbors enjoying breakfast and getting their hands dirty—all while contributing to a vibrant urban forest that will provide benefits for decades to come. 

This year’s Sunnyside planting, located in the Tabor to the River program area, was an impressive affair. On January 24th, as many as 100 people gathered to participate, and after a few announcements and thank yous, the bike trailers packed with trees took off from Sunnyside School Park and Sunnyside United Methodist Church. Trailers carried trees destined to find homes in a yard or planting strip nearby. In typical Friends of Trees style, gratified volunteers from several neighborhoods—cyclists, walkers and automobile drivers alike—returned to a potluck of delicious homemade food.

In addition to Sunnyside, FOT staff and volunteers helped to plant trees in Laurelhurst, Kerns, North Tabor, Centennial, Mill Park, Hazelwood, and Glenfair neighborhoods that morning. In all, volunteers planted over 200 trees, and at least half of them by bike! 

If you’d like to volunteer for a Friends of Trees planting this year, visit  While many plantings are closed to new volunteers, there are still several opportunities to get involved.

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.