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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

Table of Contents
Development Patterns

There is no data available for the majority of the buildings in the Balch subwatershed. Where data is available, it indicates that most were built before 1945.

Balch Creek Road (also called Balch Road) was established in the 1840s based on an historic Native American travel route. Danforth Balch homesteaded 640 acres in the Balch Creek subwatershed through a donation land claim in 1850 (City of Portland Bureau of Planning, 1991).

Guilds Lake was filled in the years after the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905. The material used to fill Guilds Lake came from the steep hillsides above the lake in this subwatershed and Johnson-Nicolai Hills subwatershed where the Portland Heights subdivision was being constructed. Material excavated for houses and streets was sluiced down the street right-of-ways and into Guilds Lake.

Since then development has concentrated and intensified on the river frontage and on the flat bottomland between the Willamette River and the West Hills. River-related industrial development resulted in construction of hardened banks and docks, clearing of the riparian area, and filling of the floodplain and wetlands.

Rail yards and light industrial dominate the bottomland with the Port of Portland’s Terminal 1 and part of the Gunderson manufacturing facility on the Willamette River bank. The lower slopes of the West Hills and the mouth of Balch Creek canyon are developed with single and multifamily residential. Lower density residential development is scattered up the length of the Balch Creek canyon along Cornell and Thompson Roads with higher density residential subdivisions at the crest of the watershed on Skyline and Ramsey Boulevards.

Several open space and institutional uses are found in the subwatershed such as the edge of the Mt. Calvary Cemetery and the Portland Audubon Sanctuary.

Major transportation corridors in the subwatershed are: Cornell and Thompson Roads - extending up the very center of the subwatershed parallel to Balch Creek - Skyline Boulevard at the top of the subwatershed, and Highway 30, Nicolai, and Yeon Avenues crossing the bottomland.

1850 - 1945 261.0
1946 - 1965 122.0
1966 - 1985 81.0
1986 - 2003 130.0
No Data 627.0
Maps & Files

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