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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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  • Large wood in streams provides valuable habitat for fish and wildlife and helps prevent erosion. Only 2% of Portland’s streams have enough large wood to shelter salmon.

  • Rock lining, riprap and seawalls along river and stream banks reduce habitat for fish and wildlife, and can cause water quality and flooding problems.

  • More than 60 culverts in the city block salmon migration in streams, like this old culvert at SE Glenwood.

  • Portland has about 300 miles of rivers and streams and 9,400 acres of public natural areas.

  • Stewardship by Portlanders of all ages is helping restore habitat along our streams.

Graphic: Portland has 9,400 acres of public parks and natural areas.Part of what makes Portland unique is our history of protecting and restoring valuable natural areas in the city. Forest Park, Smith and Bybee Wetlands, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and Foster Floodplain Natural Area are some of the city’s gems where native birds, fish and wildlife can find refuge and food.

These areas also benefit people by providing trees and plants that help keep our air and water clean, and space for recreation or simply enjoying nature.

Rivers, streams, forests, floodplains and wetlands are some of the types of habitat in Portland. But habitat is not just parks and natural areas. Neighborhood features like street and yard trees, ecoroofs, rain gardens and native plant gardens are also valuable urban habitat.

Despite Portland’s green reputation, things like development, pollution, stormwater runoff, and invasive species continue to degrade our urban habitat. In some cases, good habitat is not accessible to fish because culverts or other barriers block their migration. Shallow water habitat, which is critical to salmon in a large river like the Willamette, has been dramatically reduced. The lower Willamette River once had about 80% shallow water habitat. Development along the river has reduced that now to only about 20%.

Healthy habitat provides natural functions for clean water and helps protect homes, businesses and infrastructure from the impacts of climate change. Protecting, enhancing and restoring aquatic and terrestrial (water and land) habitats in the city will help ensure we have clean water, healthy salmon populations, livable neighborhoods and places for people to enjoy nature for many generations to come.

City scientists evaluate stream habitat indicators such as amount of shade, vegetation types, bank conditions, and other factors. Some of this information, plus citywide data such as tree canopy coverage and floodplain conditions, goes into the habitat scores for the Watershed Report Cards.

Explore Portland's Watersheds

See some of the actions we’re taking to improve habitat in the city

NOAA Salmon Project Habitat video

This video from PNCA shows how stream bank conditions affect salmon

Portland Area Watershed Monitoring Program

More information about the city’s stream monitoring program and data

Portland Parks & Recreation’s Natural Areas

Environmental Services and Parks work together to manage invasive species and create healthy habitat

What We Measure

Learn more about the habitat indicators used in watershed report cards