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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

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Meet your neighbors, the lampreys


In partnership with Wisdom of the Elders and PSU’s Indigenous Nation Studies program, and with support from Environmental Services, Johnson Creek Watershed Council volunteers are walking stretches of Johnson Creek and its tributaries looking for native lamprey and steelhead. Volunteers spotted Western brook lamprey in Crystal Springs Creek, a tributary to Johnson Creek in Southeast Portland, on the first official weekend of the Lamprey and Steelhead Community Science surveys this February. 

Check out the underwater video of lampreys building egg nests – known as “redds” – taken by community science volunteer Jay Horita-Chu:

Lamprey are some of the oldest animal species around, dating back 450 million years in the fossil record. The Western brook lampreys (Lampetra richardsonii) that were spotted in Crystal Springs live their entire lives in freshwater rivers and streams. Their much larger cousins the Pacific lampreys (Entosphenus tridentatus) are also born in freshwater, but migrate to the ocean to eat and mature like salmon and steelhead, then return to their home streams to spawn.

Rich in fats, historically abundant and easy to harvest, lamprey have been a culturally significant food source for Native Americans since time immemorial. Now threatened with extinction, tribes up and down the Columbia and Willamette Rivers are working to restore lamprey habitat and retrofit artificial passage barriers like dams. To learn more about lamprey restoration, visit

The Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s Community Science program is supported by Environmental Services, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, and the Jubitz Family Foundation.


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