What are green streets and why are they important?
Portland is at the front of a national green street trend that combines stormwater management with urban street design. Green streets are street-side bioswales or planters that use plants and soil to capture stormwater runoff from the street, allowing it to soak into the ground while filtering out pollutants. Green Streets also create attractive urban green spaces in our neighborhoods, enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety, and help protect sewer ratepayers’ investments in the piped collection system.
Who maintains and cares for green streets?
The city is responsible for looking after green streets as they are an important part of the city's stormwater collection system. Professional landscape crews visit green streets to make sure they are functioning. Activities may include, trimming the vegetation and removing weeds when necessary, removing and disposing of sediment, picking up trash and debris, clearing curb openings, and watering during the first two years the plants are getting established. Community members can help keep green streets working and looking good in between city visits by becoming a Green Street Steward.
Role of a Green Street Steward
Becoming a Green Street Steward is voluntary, and you can spend as much time as you want. As a Green Street Steward, you will work with the city to help with simple activities like picking up trash and debris and making sure curb openings and overflow drains are clear so stormwater can flow into the facility. This keeps stormwater and pollutants out of our streams and rivers while maintaining attractive streetscapes for your community and improving the health of our watersheds.
Do I need to attend a training workshop?
You are not required to attend a training workshop to become a Green Street Steward. The city asks that you attend a training workshop if you want more instruction or want to remove weeds from a green street facility. The green street must be in the long-term stewardship phase to remove weeds. So the facility must be at least two years old and the plants are established. When you sign up to adopt a green street, the information will include which phase it is in.
How much time will it take me?
As a Green Street Steward, you can spend as much time as you want caring for your facility. We know you're busy and appreciate any time you can provide. One of the most important times to check on a green street is before or after a storm event when heavy rains can cause trash and debris to collect around curb openings and drains, preventing stormwater from entering the facility. If you have only a few minutes to spare, you can help ensure the facility functions by removing any trash, debris, and leaves from curb openings and overflow drains.
Can I add plants, flowers, or vegetables to my green street?
Adding colorful plants and flowers to your green street may look attractive, but they can disrupt the green street's function in managing stormwater. The city carefully selects plants (and soil) that work best for greatest stormwater management benefit. Any changes or plant additions to your green street may disrupt this function and crowd out desired plants.
Can I prune or trim the plants in the green street?
The plants serve a very important function for stormwater management, trimming them can destroy the plant and its function. The city will trim plants when safety and green street function are a concern. If you think the plants are a safety concern, call 503-823-1424. It's possible you may be subject to a city fine for impairing the health of the plants and the function of the green street facilities.
For more information, contact the Green Street Steward Program at GreenStreetStewards@portlandoregon.gov.