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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204

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High Water Hides Fish Habitat

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The Lower Columbia Slough Refugia Project provides habitat structure for migrating salmon

Last week’s high water in the Columbia River, Willamette River and the Columbia Slough has covered most of the 35 large fish refugia structures installed to provide fish habitat as part of the Lower Columbia Slough Refugia Project.  This is exactly what was supposed to happen!

Habitat structures exposed by low water during the summer

Habitat structures currently under water

The beautiful Columbia Slough in high water conditions

Please visit the project website to learn more about the ecology, engineering and construction of the Lower Slough Refugia Project. The website also features a new video, produced by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council and volunteer videographer David Biggs, that explains why the structures are designed to be hidden from our view at high water levels.


Celebrate spring and trillium in Tryon Creek this weekend at the Trillium Festival

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The event is sponsored by the Friends of Tryon Creek and takes places April 1-2 at Tryon Creek State Park

Join the Friends of Tryon Creek for their annual Trillium Festival on April 1-2 at Tryon Creek State Park. This community event will welcome spring, celebrate the annual return of the trillium, and teach attendees about the benefits of native plants.

Native plants provide wildlife habitat, filter stormwater, and help stabilize slopes. Environmental Services does restoration projects on public land with native plants through the city, including in the Tryon Creek Watershed. Property owners and residents can also get involved by removing non-native invasive species and replacing them with native plants. Natives are well-suited to the amount of rainfall, soils and sun exposure that are typical in Portland, so they tend to thrive.

Please note that Terwilliger Blvd from Hwy 43 up to the Park is closed due to sewer construction. See for more information about the project and associated road closures and detours.

For more information about this community event, click here:

Alien Plant Invader: Lesser celandine


Watch for these yellow blooms starting this week.

lesser celandine flowers

This friendly looking is plant popping up in lawns and parking strips across Portland, but don't be deceived!

It’s called lesser celandine.  Like a lot of invasive plants, it is able to out-compete native plants.  We need your help in the battle against invasives like this one.

Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) emerges earlier in the spring than many native plants, allowing it to overtake areas quickly.  This advantage allows lesser celandine to form dense patches displacing native plants, destroying wildlife habitat and ruining lawns.  Diverse native plants that provide nectar and pollen for pollinating insects and birds lose out.  Lesser celandine also dies back in the spring, which leaves hillsides and stream banks vulnerable to erosion that pollutes our rivers and streams. 

Lesser celandine grows above-ground from November to April, and flowers from late winter to early spring.  The leaves are dark green with silvery markings, shiny, succulent, and kidney- or heart-shaped.  The bright yellow flowers are often confused with the look-a-like marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), which is a native plant not known to occur in Portland metro region.  You can identify lesser celandine because of the three light green sepals behind its petals.  Lesser celandine produces finger-like tubers that form underground and tiny bulblets under the leaves.  The tubers, bulblets and seeds can all spread rapidly.

Removing this plant is tricky.  All parts of the plant as well as any soil near the plant must be placed in a bag and thrown in the trash. Tubers and bulblets must be dug up and disposed.  Due to this time consuming process, manual control (digging) is only recommended for small patches (less than six feet wide) and the site must be re-checked annually.  

Do not compost lesser celandine or try to save surrounding soil.  We encourage land owners to contact Environmental Services with any additional questions.  Find more information on City of Portland’s page about lesser celandine and from the Plant Conservation Alliance.



flower sepals 

Flower sepals help identify the plant. (photo:


lesser celandine patch in city

Lesser celandine quickly took over this Portland yard!

Invasive species affect us all. They damage our forests, our streams and rivers, and our property.  Nationwide, damages associated with invasive species are estimated to be $120 billion each year.  In Oregon, the control of invasive weeds and the cost of the damages they create amounts to about $125 million each year.  We know that it costs a lot less to control new invasive plants before they become infestations, but we need everyone’s help.  Read more here about the problems caused by invasive species and why BES is particularly concerned about their impact on water quality.

Check out our previous posts on Alien Plant Invaders:


Meet your neighbors, the lampreys

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The Johnson Creek Watershed Council kicked off Lamprey and Steelhead Community Science surveys in February

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.

Jade Greening kicks off with tree planting at Harrison School: the start of a breathable, accessible, livable, and prosperous future

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During the next five years of the project, the Environmental Services Tree Program will work with Friends of Trees and other coalition and community partners to provide culturally relevant outreach and education and to plant at least 100 trees within the greater Jade District.

A group of more than 50 Jade District community members, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and academics came together this month to formalize a commitment to improve air quality in the greater Jade District through the Jade Greening coalition.  Coalition partners signed a Declaration of Cooperation and planted two trees as a living testament to their commitment. 

Jade Greening co-conveners Huy Ong (OPAL) and Senator Michael Dembrow with Oregon Solutions Director Stephen Greenwood

Environmental Services Tree Program staff provided the trees and planting materials for the ceremony, along with coalition partners Portland Parks Urban Forestry and Friends of Trees.  The trees—a Princeton Sentry ginkgo and a Chinese pistache—were chosen by representatives from the Jade community and planted at Harrison Park on SE 87th Avenue.

Coalition partner members Anne Phillip (BES), Duncan Hwang (APANO), April Bertelsen (PBOT), Damon Schrosk (UFC) and Lea Wilson (BES) planting the Princeton Sentry ginkgo.

Here in the heart of the Jade District, rich in cultural diversity but poor in tree cover and air quality, these trees will clean and cool the air and provide grace, beauty, and oxygen for students and neighbors to enjoy for generations. Thank you to Harrison Park School for providing both the location for the ceremony and the space for these trees to grow.

The Jade Greening project aims to identify and implement community-centered strategies that engage residents and partners from all sectors in a breathable, accessible, livable, and prosperous future for the Jade District. Senator Michael Dembrow and Jade community leaders OPAL and APANO convened the Jade Greening coalition through an Oregon Solutions process.  During the next five years of the project, the Environmental Services Tree Program will work with Friends of Trees and other coalition and community partners to provide culturally relevant outreach and education and to plant at least 100 trees within the greater Jade District.

The Environmental Services Tree Program works with nonprofit and community partners to plant and promote trees for clean rivers, healthy watersheds, and livable, sustainable communities. Feeling inspired to do a little greening of your own? Plant a tree in your residential yard before April 30 and get a Treebate credit on your water/sewer/stormwater utility bill. Click here for details.