The City of Portland and partners have worked for more than two decades to restore over 20 acres in the Errol Heights area. Recently, Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation acquired a 2.5-acre property to fill an important gap in the Errol Heights Natural Area Park.
Errol Creek flows through the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood in southeast Portland and drains to Johnson Creek. Environmental Services is working to restore natural resource functions in the Johnson Creek watershed, to provide flood storage, improve water quality, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat. Johnson Creek is home to Endangered Species Act-listed salmon, but has water quality limitations and alterations that contribute to nuisance flooding and limit salmon recovery. Errol Creek is fed by cold, high quality spring water that makes it ideal refuge and rearing habitat for threatened salmon. It's also a clean water source for Johnson Creek.
Environmental Services and partners completed projects at Errol Heights in 2007 and 2009 to restore wetlands and floodplain, remove fill and create a more natural channel for Errol Creek. Man-made structures that blocked fish passage were removed, and invasive species were replaced by native plants and trees. Learn more about the Errol Confluence project here. Since then, beaver have moved in and done their part to expand the wetlands. (Check out our recent post about beavers in Johnson Creek.)
Adding this new property to the public natural area helps make it possible to restore more wetland area to soak up floodwater, filter pollutants and provide habitat for native fish and wildlife. Future work will also include removing more man-made structures and rock armoring in the creek, and upgrading a culvert at SE 45th Avenue so water can flow more naturally and fish have better access to the area.
Many groups have helped with restoration, invasive species removal and native plantings at Errol Heights over the years including Portland Parks, Friends of Errol Heights, Friends of Trees, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Portland Parks Foundation, SOLVE, Hands-On Portland, Kelly Elementary School, Franklin High School, and Sunnyside Elementary School.
Top: This lawn really wants to go back to being a wetland! Staff document natural resources on the property.
Middle: When it rains in Portland, this restored wetland in Errol Heights helps soak up some of the water.
Bottom: Errol Creek has been artifically straightened in a rock-lined channel through the newly purchased property. Future efforts will restore a more natural stream channel.