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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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CWSP Grantees to Host Naturescaping Workshops

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The workshops, sponsored by East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District, will train attendees in naturescaping.

Two Portland churches that have recently received grants from BES’ Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) are hosting “Naturescaping Basics” workshops this month. The free workshops, presented by East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, train attendees in the “practice of designing (or redesigning) your landscape so that it reduces water use and decreases stormwater runoff while saving you time, money and energy.”

Faith Community Church (12414 E. Burnside), a 2013-14 CWSP grantee, will host a workshop on Saturday, October 5th. (All spaces are currently reserved for this workshop). With CWSP support, the church is working with the Russian Speaking Network of Oregon to train young people in naturescaping principles and skills, which they will use to re-landscape the church property at a highly visible site along the MAX line in East Portland.

Faith Community Church project site


Faith Community Church site plan


2012-13 CWSP grant recipient Pilgrim Lutheran Church (4244 SE 91st Ave.) will host the Naturescaping Basics workshop on Saturday, October 12th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Spots are still available, and participants can register on the EMSWCD website. Pilgrim Lutheran will also host a follow-up workshop, Site Planning 1, on November 9th. 

Pilgrim Lutheran recently completed its CWSP-funded project, which removed concrete near the church’s front entrance and replaced it with a pervious pavement prayer labyrinth that is accessible to those using mobility devices. The labyrinth is surrounded by native plant gardens and a rain garden which takes stormwater from their covered walkway and soaks it into the ground.

Photos of Pilgrim Lutheran's recently completed project: 


The Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) supports Portlanders who want to improve the health of Portlandwatersheds. CWSP is a partnership between Portland’s Environmental Services and PortlandStateUniversity. Since 1999, CWSP has granted nearly $1 million to 213 projects. As of mid-2012, these funds were matched by $3.6 million in community support through donations of services, materials and volunteer time. Over 43,000 people donated 325,000 volunteer hours, planted 147,000 native plants and trees, restored over 190 acres of riparian and upland habitat, and enhanced over 10 miles of streams. 


New Video Highlights Green Roof Benefits

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Portland experts share local examples and make the case for more green roofs

Property owners around Portland are transforming rooftops into green spaces with economic, environmental, and social benefits. A new Environmental Services video titled Green Roofs: The Nature of Portland’s Rooftops, showcases the beauty of green roofs and the many benefits they provide to building owners, residents and local communities.

Thom Ross' Building and Ecoroof, SE Portland


Green roofs are important parts of Portland’s stormwater management infrastructure because they absorb rain to reduce stormwater runoff volume. For new construction, green roofs help buildings meet stormwater management requirements. They also can have a positive impact on the property owner’s bottom line. Green roofs double, and sometimes triple, the life of the roof’s waterproof membrane. They are an amenity for building tenants and residents, and they improve the view for tenants of neighboring buildings.

Commercial properties with green roofs are more desirable and competitive in a tight real estate and rental market. And green roofs can increase leasable or saleable space on new construction through Portland’s Floor Area Ratio (FAR) bonuses.

There are more than 550 green roofs in Portlandthat cover more than 1.5 million square feet of rooftop and manage more than 34 million gallons of rainfall annually. The new green roof video features Thom Ross discussing a green roof retrofit of a commercial space, Agustin Enriquez discussing the green roof on The Janey Apartments, and Elizabeth Hart discussing the benefits of green roofs to hospitals and their patients.

Want to learn more about green roofs? Visit the Portland Ecoroof Program web page or get involved with Portland-based Green Roof Information Think-tank.

Fall yard work...for the birds?

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Now is the best time to prune trees or clear out brambles

chickadee on treeThe growing season may be coming to an end but it’s a great time to prepare your garden and yard for fall plantings and successful growth next year.  

It's not just what you plant, but when you do some kinds of yard work or property maintenance that can make a difference for healthy watersheds.  Our yards and gardens are great bird habitat in the city, and timing is everything to help native species like hummingbirds, chickadees and even owls thrive.  

In order to create the least disruption to nesting birds, August 1 through January 31 is the best time for disturbance of vegetation for tree pruning, hedge trimming or vegetation removal, since local birds are finished with their nesting cycle.


Be aware from February 1 – April 15 when working on your trees and shrubs, since Portland has early tree nesters such as hawks, owls, heron and hummingbirds and ground nesters such as waterfowl.  Try to get all your trimming and pruning done before this time to provide a welcome to these early nesters.  After April 15 and through July, many species are nesting so that’s a great time to focus on other yard and garden projects.

 As you plan your fall projects and dream up your healthy backyard for next year, check out these great resources:

 hummingbird nest

For information on natural pest control, composting, and how to avoid lawn and garden products that can pollute our rivers and streams, see Metro’s Natural Gardening Resources

Great discounts, tutorials and support are available from the Backyard Habitat Certification Program.  Join the thousands in the region who have created habitat and made their yards beautiful and at the same time.

Need some free expert advice about that rain garden you’ve been meaning to build or that soggy spot that needs a better plan? Join one of the free rain garden and naturescaping classes offered by East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District this fall, or get information through BES’s Clean River Rewards Program.

Visit the city’s Urban Forestry website for information about pruning trees, tree care professionals, and opportunities with the Neighborhood Tree Steward program.  Have space for a new tree? Check out these opportunities to get low-cost trees.

Environmental Services provides detailed guidance on avoiding impacts on nesting birds for city construction projects.  While specifically geared for that purpose, the guidance may be helpful to others interested in protecting native species during landscaping work.

Photos credit: Lyn Topinka

First CWSP project of 2013-14 off to a smashing start!


St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Church depaves its parking lot to alleviate flooding and improve water quality in Johnson Creek

Last month, St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Church took the first big step in its effort to reduce recurrent flooding of its church building. Kicking off a project funded by BES’ Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP), more than 50 volunteers from the church, Depave, Green Lents, and Johnson Creek Watershed Council smashed and removed 2,400 square feet of asphalt (at least 30 tons) from the church’s parking lot. More photos can be found on Depave’s website.

The ‘depaved’ portion of the parking lot will be further excavated and converted to bioswales – depressed areas with high-quality soil and native plants – that will soak up stormwater from the remaining paved surface. When completed later this fall, the project is expected to alleviate St. Mary’s ongoing flooding issues while improving water quality in Johnson Creek, which runs adjacent to the church’s property in Southeast Portland.

Volunteers were served a delicious Ethiopian lunch cooked by church members. In addition to the CWSP grant, funds were raised at a traditional Ethiopian dinner at the church this past June.

Volunteers are needed to help plant the bioswales on Saturday, October 26, from 10am - 2pm. To register, contact Johnson Creek Watershed Council Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, Amy Lodholz (

The Community Watershed Stewardship Program awards grants of up to $10,000 for projects that improve neighborhoods and communities while also caring for Portland’s watersheds. Other projects that can be funded include neighborhood livability improvements, playground improvements, youth summer programs, and community gardens. For more information, visit the CWSP webpage.


Fall Events on the Columbia Slough and Willamette River


canoersIt’s not too late to get outside for some events with our partners this fall to enjoy, learn, and lend a hand for healthy watersheds in Portland. 

If you’re an old hand or a curious newcomer to north and northeast Portland’s Columbia Slough, join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for one of these events:

Saturday, October 12: Help clean up Force Lake as part of Parke Diem, the largest park clean up in Portland Parks history!  What? You’ve never heard of Force Lake? This gem is one of the most accessible spots in the city for wildlife viewing.  It needs your help to battle blackberries and trash, and get some new dogwood trees planted.  Find more information and register for this event here.

Thursday, October 24: Join the morning watershed walk along the slough to watch for eagles, herons, ducks and more.  Get some fresh air on this 4.6 mile loop trail starting and ending at Kenton Park, passing by wildlife themed art installations and the famous Paul Bunyan.  Find more information and register for this event here.  

Friday, October 25: A family-friendly Owl Prowl will get the kids in the spirit of the season.  Learn about local owls, then head out on a nighttime stroll at Whitaker Ponds to listen for owls and other wildlife. Find more information and register for this event here.

More information on these and other events is at:

And a little farther south, on the Willamette River:

Enjoy the fall colors from river-level and help plant some new native plants at Ross Island.  Saturday, October 26 is the last of this year’s Paddle to Preserve Ross Island events.  This is your chance to get out to historic Ross Island with Portland Parks and Willamette Riverkeeper. 

Find more information here or contact