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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 613, Portland, OR 97204

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Free Grant Writing Workshops for the Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP)

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Staff from Environmental Services will be available to help interested community members develop competitive proposals.

Are you a member of a community group looking to improve your neighborhood and help the environment? Are you interested in applying for a Community Watershed Stewardship Program grant, but don’t have any grant writing experience? Would you like help filling out your application materials, but don’t know where to turn?

You’re in luck! CWSP has two upcoming grant writing workshops that are fun, free and open to the public. Topics will include the grant selection process, criteria used for scoring applications and tips for giving your grant proposal its best chance at success. Successful grant proposals will promote equity and build community partnerships, and we can help you develop your ideas so they are reviewed competitively. Bring your friends, your ideas and your love for Portland watersheds. Refreshments provided. We hope to see you there! 

The dates, times and locations for the two upcoming November workshops are:

The Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) helps Portlanders make improvements in their neighborhoods and communities, while also improving the health of our watersheds. CWSP is a partnership between Environmental Services and Portland State University.

CWSP administers two grant programs: Stewardship Grants of up to $10,000 and Native Plant Mini-Grants of up to $500. Learn more at:

Questions about CWSP and the grant writing workshops can be sent to CWSP Grants Coordinator B Castra Nemici at or by phone at 503-823-7917


One Hundred Years Ago Along The Columbia River

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A photo from 1917 reflects how much has changed in Portland's most urbanized watershed

Urban watersheds are complex systems that rely on strong partnerships to balance development needs with natural resource management and protection. In the Columbia Slough, Portland’s most urbanized watershed, there’s a long history of seeking this balance, and a recently discovered photo reflects how much has changed.

Until 1918, the Columbia Slough was connected to the Columbia River floodplain. The annual water would carve slough channels and fill up lakes and wetland areas. In the summer, the Columbia floodplain would dry out. The flood waters were unpredictable and made the land along the Columbia difficult to cultivate and develop. 

This photo was taken one hundred years ago at the place along the Columbia River where flood water overflowed into the head of the Columbia Slough.  The site is along present-day N.E. Marine Drive.

After this photo was taken, a levee system was constructed to prevent floods from entering the area, which enabled farmers to plant crops and industries to develop along the Columbia Slough channels.  The levee also provides protection for the Portland International Airport.

This photo was taken on November 2, 2017 to show the changes at the head of the slough over the last 100 years. The levee obscures the view of the Columbia River, the banks of the Columbia Slough have been vegetated with native plants, and the pump station in the photo was built to move water from the Columbia Slough out to the Columbia River

Within the levee system, however, the Columbia Slough boasts the most wetlands in Portland and an amazing variety of fish and wildlife, including salmon that are protected under the Endangered Species Act. That’s why Environmental Services and partners like the Columbia Slough Watershed Council and the Multnomah County Drainage District work together to improve the health of the Columbia Slough by keeping the water moving to allow cold spring water to flow in, and by planting the slough channels with water-loving native plants such as willows and dogwood. Those plants create shady cool spots for fish and wildlife.

To learn more about watershed improvement projects along the Columbia Slough, check out

To help with Columbia Slough stewardship projects or to explore the slough by boat or foot

To learn more about the levee system  or

Make new friends, but keep the old… Then get them all together to work on a bioswale!

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Want to learn about bioswales and get involved, but don’t know how? Read on for an exciting opportunity.

UPDATE! Due to the rain in the forecast, NECN has cancelled the work party for Saturday, October 18th! NECN will be rescheduling it in the near future, and City Green will include the details once they're available.


The Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN) is planning a gardening and bioswale community day on October 21st beginning at 10:30am. This free event is a great opportunity for you to meet new friends, learn about the bioswale and its impact on stormwater management and how stormwater affects local watersheds, all while having fun engaging with your local community.

NECN was a recipient of a grant from Environmental Services’ Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. NECN’s grant funded the creation of a bioswale in the NECN parking lot, which was installed by neighborhood volunteers and is already helping to alleviate flooding and inform plans for future stormwater projects on their property. The bioswale project at NECN is an excellent example of how CWSP projects create ongoing opportunities for ecological education and engagement in Portland.

Volunteers from NECN and Depave remove asphalt from the parking lot

CWSP helps Portlanders make improvements in their neighborhoods and communities, while also improving the health of our watersheds. As a partnership with Portland State University, CWSP relies on two student coordinators to build awareness of the program and identify potential grant applicants. The students, Esmeralda and B, have been attending events all summer to create awareness of the CWSP program and solicit grant applications, including the Alberta Street Fair, Jade District Night Market, Sunday Parkways, Hawthorne Street Fair, Belmont Street Fair, Festival of Nations, Indian Days Celebration, and more. So far they have engaged with over 3,000 people and have contacted 28 organizations with which they hope to build CWSP partnerships.

Esmeralda and B will be at the event and are looking forward to talking to you about how you can turn your idea for an environmental project into a reality with funding from the CWSP Program. They would be happy to tell you all about the CWSP grants that are available, and send you home with a packet of native wildflower seeds!

NECN Gardening and Bioswale Community Day

Where: 4815 NE 7th Ave. Portland, OR 97211

When: Saturday October 21st at 10:30 a.m. 

Learn more about CWSP here!

Helping Salmon in Our City: Culvert Removal and Replacement in Portland

Salmon season is upon us, and it’s a great time to look at some of the projects Environmental Services has been working on to improve salmon habitat.

Salmon season is upon us, and it’s a great time to look at some of the projects Environmental Services has been working on to improve salmon habitat. Portland’s rivers and streams support several species of fish protected under the Endangered Species Act. Projects like the Crystal Springs Creek Restoration have shown excellent results and contributed to Portland’s designation as a Salmon-Safe city. Environmental Services is continuing work on other habitat restoration and protection projects throughout the city. One common element of these project is culvert removal or replacement, which can remove barriers to fish passage and habitat access.

What are culverts?

Culverts are pipe segments that take above ground stream flows underground. They are often found at road crossings as they pipe the steam under the roadway. Culverts can present several challenges. First, water flows faster through smooth pipes than it does in a natural streambed, which increases the potential for erosion and adds sediment in the water. Also, culverts tend to be hard for fish and other wildlife to pass through, and can increase the risk of flooding.

Catkin Marsh culvert removal

Two culverts were removed in September 2017 from a Columbia Slough channel within a 54-acre natural area with multiple wetlands known as Catkin Marsh The wetlands collect surface water from surrounding land and direct it to the Lower Columbia Slough, which is a designated Critical Habitat for salmon. The wetlands filter sediments and pollutants from surface water; cycle nutrients and contribute to the food web; moderate air and water temperatures; and provide connectivity to the Columbia Slough. To date, Environmental Services has planted over 17,000 native trees and shrubs throughout the site’s wetlands and uplands.

Culvert removal at Catkin Marsh in September 2017

The removal of the two unnecessary culverts improves stream connectivity, allowing the water and organisms to move freely through the channel. The Multnomah County Drainage District partnered with the City and performed the in-water work. Environmental Services will plant native vegetation along the slough channel, to help improve habitat and water quality by shading the waterways and lowering water temperatures.

To find out more about projects in the Columbia Slough:

Fanno Creek culvert replacement at SW 45th Ave

Across town, crews replaced another undersized culvert that blocked fish passage much of the year where SW 45th crosses Fanno Creek, just north of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Fanno Creek is a tributary to the Tualatin River, which flows to the Willamette, and provides important habitat for fish, birds and pollinators. Fanno Creek is also an important part of the stormwater management system in SW Portland, where much of the stormwater stays on the surface and flows through ditches and culverts into streams such as Fanno.

A new constructed streambed culvert getting installed at SW 45th and Fanno Creek

The new culvert under SW 45th will serve two main functions. First, its constructed streambank will consist of a mix of gravel and boulders to simulate a natural stream bottom, which will slow down the flow of water and make the culvert passable for fish and other river-dwelling critters. Second, the larger culvert opening will help manage large stream flows in the rainy season and reduce the potential for flooding. The project also includes the installation of native vegetation and removal of invasive plants. Native plants, which will be installed near the river after the project is complete, help to stabilize stream banks, resist erosion, keep invasives at bay, and provide quality habitat.

Construction is underway, and will be completed this fall. For more project information:

To find out more about projects in the Fanno Creek Watershed:

Forest Park culvert replacement on Leif Erikson Drive

Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) are working on another culvert replacement project along Leif Erikson Drive in Forest Park. Several of the culverts under the roadway are degraded and failing. They are also not passable for fish or other wildlife since there is a drop between the bottom of the pipe and the streambed (see photo) and the fact that the pipes are steep and have smooth bottoms. They are also contributing to erosion and downcutting of stream banks, which impacts the natural movement of the streams. The project will replace the culverts with pipes that have small dams in them to accumulate small amounts of gravel and sediment to make the stream passable for wildlife even as the stream goes underground. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.

Existing culvert and fish passage barrier along Leif Erikson Drive in Forest Park

Culvert removal and replacement projects are tools that help the City of Portland improve watershed health. For more information, the Watershed Health Report Cards are a great way to track our progress.  

Celebrate Salmon at Sunday Parkways this Sunday, September 24th

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The fourth annual Salmon Celebration will be part of the Sellwood-Milwaukie Sunday Parkways, taking place Sunday September 24th from 11 a.m to 4 p.m.

The fourth annual Salmon Celebration is set for Sunday, September 24th in Westmoreland Park to celebrate restoration of Crystal Springs, Portland’s first Salmon Sanctuary. The event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and celebrates the return of salmon to Crystal Springs Creek with a Native American blessing, a salmon bake demonstration (with samples!), storytelling for all ages, fun and interactive inter-cultural activities, and ways to learn about and get involved in the watershed. It's also the city's first "Salmon in Our City" Day. 

This year's Salmon Celebration will be part of the Sellwood-Milwaukie Sunday Parkways, one of five Sunday Parkways events organized by the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Check out the new Sunday Parkways route map for Sept. 24th. Find out more about the next Sunday Parkways event here and on Facebook @PortlandSundayParkways.  And look for the Environmental Services booth where you can pick up free salmon hats and ‘swim’ with the river of bicycles.

The Crystal Springs Partnership is organizing the Salmon Celebration with support from Portland Parks & Recreation, Environmental Services, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and other groups. The partnership is a group of community members, organizations, and city representatives who work with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council on restoration in the Crystal Springs watershed.

Recognizing the successful restoration at Crystal Springs, and the importance of salmon in our past and future, Commissioner Nick Fish led City Council to proclaim Sept. 24 as the first annual “Salmon in Our City Day” and designated Crystal Springs as the first Salmon Sanctuary. As more streams are restored, the City will designate additional sanctuaries. To find out more about salmon in our city and restoration projects, visit the Environmental Services’ Salmon in Portland web page.