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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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Visit Environmental Services at Multnomah Days Sat. Aug 19

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The annual Multnomah Days takes place this Saturday August 19 from 9 am to 4 pm in Multnomah Village, SW 25th and Capital Highway

Join us to help celebrate Multnomah Days this Saturday in SW Portland’s Multnomah Village. There will be a lively parade, free live music and local artists along with by booths showcasing organizations working to improve our community. Stop by the Environmental Services booth to learn about our local watersheds and how you can get involved, and to connect with some of our partner groups, including the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, the SW Watershed Resource Center, and more! 

We’ll also have information about upcoming projects in the area. Come and learn more about the SW Capital Highway project, the stream restoration work at Dickinson Park, the upcoming projects at the headwaters of Stephens Creek, and more!

We’ll see you there!

Multnomah Days

Multnomah Village: SW 35th and Capital Highway

Saturday, August 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.   

Don't miss the 23rd Annual Columbia Slough Regatta on August 6th

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Join the on-the-water festival and celebrate the Columbia Slough!

The Regatta celebrates recreation opportunities on Portland’s hidden gem of local waterways, the Columbia Slough. The Regatta is not actually a race; this family-friendly event is a fun paddle for experienced and novice paddlers alike. 

The event features complimentary 45-minute canoe and kayak rentals (all equipment provided) for registered attendees. Before and after paddling, participants can visit with local environmental and water-based organizations, enjoy hands-on nature activities, live music and guided tours of the Multnomah County levee system. Free t-shirts and refreshments will be provided while supplies last. Space is limited, so register early!

Date: Sunday August 06

Time: 10:00am - 2:00pm

Location: Multnomah County Drainage Districts

1880 NE Elrod Drive, Portland, OR 97218

Registration required at: or 503-281-1132

Visit to learn more about the the City’s work to protect and enhance the Columbia Slough watershed.

Summer Watering for Newly Planted Trees

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With long days and high temperatures, don’t forget to water newly planted street and yard trees.

If you’ve lived in Oregon for a while, you’re probably used to both trees and hot, dry summers. “I don’t water the older trees in my yard,” you may be thinking to yourself, “so do my new trees really need water?”

First, if you planted a new tree within the past few years, thank you! Now, let’s help make sure that tree survives and thrives.

To understand the importance of watering young trees during the summer, it’s helpful to know a couple of things about how trees work. Trees do most of their growing during spring and summer, and like any growing creature, trees need food. Through a process called photosynthesis, trees combine water and carbon dioxide into food for themselves (and oxygen for us to breathe; thanks, trees!) When there isn’t enough water, trees can’t make the food they need to survive.  As you can see, water is at the root of everything a tree does!

What about those older trees in your yard or along the street? Mature trees rely on extensive root systems to collect the water they need, even when it hasn’t rained in a while. Soil is like a sponge because it stores water that soaks into it. Mature trees can stretch their roots out for hundreds of feet around them and draw on water stored in the soil. Newly planted trees don’t have the same root systems in place yet, so they have access to much less water.

Your tree will need a few years to recover from getting transplanted and to grow enough roots to get the water it needs. In the meantime, weekly watering through the hottest, driest months, will help your trees grow, build up energy reserves, and fight off pests and diseases.

Here’s how you can help your tree get the water it needs this summer:

DO water at least 10 gallons per week during May-September. Give the tree all 10 gallons at once. Hose or bucket? It’s up to you!

DON’T rely on a sprinkler to water your tree. Sprinklers only wet the surface and do not provide the deep water a tree needs. Sprinklers also add moisture to the air, which may encourage some types of pathogens.

Of course, there can be too much of a good thing. Before watering, use a hand trowel to dig down a few inches within a foot or two of your newly planted tree. If the soil is still wet, there’s no need to water.

Visit the Environmental Services Tree Program website to learn more about tree care and stewardship opportunities. 


Alameda Stairs: Healthy, Certified Backyard Habitat

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The neighborhood project is the first public space to achieve the designation from the Backyard Habitat Certification Program

Lush green ferns and other native plants now take the place of broken bottles, trash and weeds as Environmental Services and community partners transformed the Alameda Stairs, a popular public walkway in NE Portland, into healthy habitat and a beautiful public space that also filters stormwater.

Planting day at the Alameda Stairs in Northeast Portland

The transformation happened as Environmental Services worked with the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association and partnered with the Backyard Habitat Certification Program and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD).

Some of the 500 native plants planted along the Alameda Stairs

At least 500 native plants were planted during a community event, making Alameda Stairs the first public space created under the Backyard Habitat Certification Program. Today, those plants are now thriving and helping to stabilize the soil. The Alameda Stairs are not just a passage through the neighborhood, but also healthy habitat that will provide stormwater management benefits for many generations to come. Environmental Services supports projects like this that work with nature to clean and infiltrate rainwater that runs off our streets, driveways and roofs.

To learn more about the Backyard Habitat Certification program, visit:

The new signage along Alameda Stairs showing Backyard Habitat Certification

Alien Plant Invader: Japanese Butterbur

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An update on successful efforts to fight this plant, and what you can do to help

At first glance, Japanese butterbur (Petasites japonica) appears to be a tropical beauty and a fantastic groundcover for your back yard. But beauty can be deceiving! Its huge leaves shade out other plants. It steals nutrients and can quickly invade an entire area. It’s not yet widespread in Portland, but it is growing in some sensitive natural areas and it’s hard to get rid of. Japanese butterbur is listed as a “watch” species in Portland, but may be reclassified with a higher “B” ranking.

As its name suggests, Japanese butterbur hails from Japan where some people consider it edible with careful preparation. Some parts of the plant are poisonous. Its scientific name comes from the Greek word petasos, meaning a wide brimmed hat.

Japanese butterbur’s kidney-shaped leaves can be up to four feet wide and are fuzzy on the underside. It emerges in late winter or early spring, sometimes with clumps of white or pale yellow flowers appearing before the leaves, and can grow up to six feet tall.

Japanese butterbur spreads mostly through underground stems, and sometimes through seeds. It seems to be spreading in Portland through yard waste dumping, plant trading and when the underground stems break apart and float down streams. Gardeners sometimes plant Japanese butterbur in containers to check its spread, but this plant is an escape artist! It’s been known to spread in spite of containment.

Hand-pulling is an effective way to remove small areas of Japanese butterbur from your yard, though you’ll have to continue pulling sprouts for at least a few years. Mowing will not remove the plant but can keep it from spreading. More established populations are difficult to control and common herbicide treatments don’t seem to be effective. If you find Japanese butterbur, please contact Dominic Maze at Environmental Services to discuss control options.

Invasive species affect us all. They damage forests, streams, rivers and our property. Nationwide, invasives cause an estimated $120 billion in damages every year. In Oregon, the costs of controlling invasive weeds and the damage they cause amounts to about $125 million each year. It costs a lot less to control new invasive plants before they become infestations, but we need your help. Read more about the problems caused by invasive species and why Environmental Services is concerned about their impact on water quality.

Catch up on previous Alien Plant Invader posts:

·                     Garlic mustard

·                     Tree of Heaven

·                     Goatsrue

·                     Italian arum (orange candleflower)

·                     Lesser celandine

·                     English holly

·                     Spurge laurel

·                     Japanese and giant knotweed

·                     Ivy

·                     Pokeweed

·                     False brome