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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

MAILING ADDRESS: 1120 SW 5th Ave, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204

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Kicking Asphalt: 10 Years of Stormwater Management with Depave

September 17, 2018

Environmental Services’ longstanding partnership with local nonprofit Depave not only transforms asphalt patches, but also empowers Portlanders to take part in the city’s efforts to manage stormwater runoff and keep our rivers clean.

What’s Stormwater Runoff?

In a natural environment, soil and plants would absorb rainfall; but in the city, streets, buildings, and parking lots cover the ground. Rain washes over these surfaces and becomes stormwater runoff, which carries oil and other pollutants to rivers and streams.

Improving Neighborhoods TogetherFargo Forest Garden depaving

Environmental Services is working on an upcoming project supporting Depave and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership to improve North Portland’s Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary schoolyard. Starting at 10 a.m. on September 22, volunteers will transform this schoolyard’s asphalt expanse into a stormwater-savvy soft play area. Volunteers will help remove more than 6,000 square feet of pavement, and the project will include a vegetated planting area, six new trees, creation of a wallball court with a mural showcasing watershed health, and stormwater-focused education for the school’s K-5 students.

This work will help reduce pollution to the Willamette River, and provide shade trees, a new soft play area, and habitat for native birds and pollinators. It’s also a chance for the students to learn about watershed health and urban habitat.

To participate in the Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary School depaving work party, register at: Volunteers must wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. All tools, safety gear, snacks, and lunch are provided. Music will be provided courtesy of DJ Depave.

Ascension lot work eventA History of Partnership

Environmental Services and Depave have maintained a strong partnership since the nonprofit’s founding 10 years ago. In 2008, Depave earned a $10,000 Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) grant through Environmental Services to remove 3,000 square feet of parking lot and establish the grounds of Fargo Forest Garden, located in Portland’s Eliot neighborhood at the corner of NE Fargo Street and N Williams Avenue.

Greening Our City

A larger-scale depaving project took place starting in 2010 at Ascension Catholic Church at 743 SE 76th Avenue. The church lot was a sea of asphalt, with oversized parking stalls and drive aisles lacking interior landscaping.  

As of fall 2017, Depave has removed 3,200 square feet of asphalt. A CWSP grant helped to gather over 150 volunteers from the church, Depave, and the community who installed over 800 native plants and completed two new rain gardens. Environmental Services installed 10 large diameter trees, helping to shade the parking lot, intercept stormwater during the winter months, and reduce the urban heat island effect. The Mount Tabor neighborhood church now manages around 500,000 gallons of stormwater runoff onsite annually.Ascension rain garden

Environmental Services is proud to have sponsored these kick-asphalt projects over the years alongside Depave. If you have an idea for a depave project of your own, apply for a CWSP grant or connect with Depave.


Sign up for No Ivy Day Oct. 27, 2018 - with you, we can stop the invasive plant takeover

It's true that one person can make a difference. But a whole lot of people working together can move mountains (of ivy) and restore a forest, and a park, and a wetland and more. ivy

Here's a great chance to team up in a citywide volunteer day to remove ivy and other invasive plants and help restore our natural areas and forests. You'll never look at our forests and natural areas the same way again.

Sign up for the15th annual citywide No Ivy Day, October 27, 2018 from 9 a.m. to noon

Choose the site that works best for you - from  Gateway Green and Nadaka Nature Park on the east side to Forest Park and Westlake Woodland on the west.

Led by our sister bureau, Portland Parks & Recreation, the events involve numerous community groups as partners. Refreshments, tools, and instruction will be provided at all locations.

Afterwards, you can join in a free celebration lunch and raffle from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at these locations: Mt Tabor, Forest Park and Marquam Nature Park. For more information sign up here.

Sign up now  - register for No Ivy Day October 27, 2018.

P.S. Want to see what else we're doing?

Citywide - Environmental Services restores natural areas and removes invasive plants throughout the year. Find out about invasive species management

Your garden - Environmental Services offers a poster of invasive plants and native plants and other resources. Find out about what to plant and what to pull.


Growing More Than Trees: Partnerships and Healthy Urban Watersheds

July 24, 2018

We know green infrastructure is about more than the plants. When we plant a tree to help manage stormwater, we’re introducing a new, long-lived resident into the landscape. A tree is shade on a playground, a restorative view from a classroom window, an air filter for the fallout of urban life. Our investments enhance the lives of Portlanders, and they’re only possible through partnerships with the community. Thanks to these community partnerships, our work – and celebration – of healthy watersheds and community has come to fruit in the Lents neighborhood.

Since 2011, the Environmental Services Tree Program has partnered with the Confluence Environmental Center to helps us better serve community through AmeriCorps service placements. Our AmeriCorps members provide opportunities for underserved Portlanders through education, leadership, and the chance to make tangible change in the landscape. Last winter, our AmeriCorps member (Max Rodrigues, pictured below, front row, right) teamed up with Rosemary Anderson High School students to plant trees at the Wattles Boys and Girls Club. Max and Friends of Trees staff spent time in the classroom with students teaching them about trees and the many benefits trees provide for people. Students helped choose the trees they wanted to see on their campus, and then spent an afternoon hands-on, planting their new trees in the school yard. The trees include our native Oregon white oak, evergreen interior live oak, and beautifully flowering cultivars of silverbell and dogwood. While students enjoy their summer break, we’ll be watering the trees for the next three summers to help get them going in their new homes.

These new school yard trees join street trees planted in front of the school and throughout the Lents neighborhood and the Jade District through other BES-community partnerships.

If you’re interested in a map of the school trees to test your tree identification skills, come find us at the Lents Fair on Sunday, August 5th, from 11am to 4pm. We’ll be at SE 92nd and SE Harold, near Wattles Boys and Girls Club and the Belmont goats. In addition to the trees, Environmental Services staff are also excited to share the latest information about our most recent commitment to Lents: The Lents Stabilization and Job Creation Collaborative.


Wattles campus is adjacent to busy transportation corridors. Trees help to provide clean air and visual barriers.

Students at work!


Planting crew poses for a post-planting photo.

A blooming Rosy Ridge silverbell, Halesia carolina ‘Rosy Ridge’

Greening the Jade District one tree at a time

It's Getting Hot! Don't Forget to Water Your Trees

July 11, 2018

Protect your investment in new trees: water them!

Summer is upon us in the Pacific Northwest, and that means it’s time to keep a careful eye on your newly planted trees (those that were planted in the last 3-5 years). The process of being transplanted is stressful, and your new tree doesn’t yet have the roots it needs to be self-sufficient.

So, how much should you water? There’s no hard-and-fast rule for watering trees. How much water the tree needs depends on the kind of tree it is, the soil it’s planted in, and the microclimate around it. Here are a few tips:

  • Start with about 10 gallons per week for every 1” of caliper (“caliper” is the width of your tree’s trunk, measured 6” above the soil line). So, if your new tree is 1.5” in diameter at its base, start with 15 gallons per week.
  • Water your tree deeply, so that the entire area where the roots are (the “root zone”) is moistened, not just the surface. A temporary berm (or raised barrier) at the tree’s dripline (the area directly under the outer circumference of the branches) helps to direct water to the roots while the tree is young. You can break this berm down after a few summers.
  • Mulch under and around the tree to help keep the soil moist and cool. Mulch should be 3-4” deep. Do not pile mulch against the trunk!  It’s a good idea to keep mulch around the tree for life.
  • Don’t overwater or underwater! Keep the soil moist like a wrung-out sponge. Before you water, take a hand tool and dig down a couple of inches. Is the soil still moist? No need to water. Is the soil bone-dry? Try increasing the amount of water slightly, add a berm to capture water, or add mulch to retain it (see above).
  • During those times when it is particularly hot and dry for an extended period, you might need to water the tree more than once a week.  If the leaves begin to wilt and the soil is dry, an extra watering day might be just what the tree needs.

watering a tree

All you need to water a tree is a bucket! Water your tree deeply so that the entire root zone is moistened, not just the surface.

Celebrating another year of tree planting!

July 2, 2018

The Environmental Services Tree Program (ESTP) welcomes 3,000+ new trees to the City

As we gear up for the next tree planting season, we pause for a breath and reflect on the planting season that just ended. That breath is all the sweeter thanks to Portland’s urban trees that help to clean the air, capture the rain, and give the birds perches to sing from. In this moment, we benefit from the trees planted by past generations. To do our part and ensure that future generations benefit from an urban tree canopy, we keep planting.

Planting and care of trees in the city is made possible by the coordination of many groups. Nurseries, landscape contractors, non-profits, city bureaus, private property owners, and a great diversity of passionate volunteers all play a role in the richness of the urban forest around us. Because of the hard work of all these people, we are pleased to report that more than 3,000 new trees were planted through ESTP programs during the 2017-2018 planting season. Thank you to all our partners who made this work possible!

New street trees on SE Holgate

A long line of new street trees graces SE Holgate Blvd at 82nd Ave. Broadleaf evergreens, such as these strawberry trees, provide clean air year-round.

Environmental Services Tree Program 2017-2018 Season Highlights

  • 2,436 street and yard trees planted at residential properties with our non-profit partner Friends of Trees.
  • 449 street trees at private residences, apartments, businesses, and non-profit properties, planted directly through ESTP with the help of our professional landscape contractors.
  • 165 yard trees approved for Treebate, a one-time rebate for single-family residents who buy and plant yard trees on their own.
  • 120 trees planted as part of special projects at schools, churches, and transportation corridors.
  • 5 new species of evergreen trees added to our street tree repertoire, including Baker cypress (Cupressus bakeri), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), box-leaf azara (Azara microphylla), canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis), and strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo).

Now is the time to prepare for next planting season!

Are you interested in planting trees at a single-family residential property?

  • Contact Friends of Trees to learn how to get involved in your once-a-year neighborhood planting day.
  • Rather plant on your own? Treebate returns September 1.
  • Interested in removing and replacing a dead tree? Don’t wait until the last minute! Permitting, tree removal, and stump grinding all take time. Visit the Portland Trees website to learn more about tree removal permits.

Are you interested in planting street trees at an apartment, business, or non-profit property?

The Environmental Services Tree Program is taking sign-ups now! Call 503-823-2255, email, or visit the Environmental Services Tree Program website to learn more.