Environmental Services’ green infrastructure projects and programs help manage stormwater runoff more naturally, control invasive plants, restore native vegetation, protect sensitive natural areas, and restore Portland’s streams. These investments improve water quality, air quality, wildlife habitat and neighborhood livability, while also helping us adapt to a changing climate.
Between 2008 and 2013, public and private partners in the Grey to Green initiative helped expand the city’s green infrastructure, improve the environment and support jobs through the following programs:
Planting Yard and Street Trees
Over 32,200 new street and yard trees have been planted. These trees will capture more than 18 million gallons of stormwater each year when they are mature. Environmental Services’ Urban Canopy Program, in partnership with Friends of Trees and other contractors, uses innovative outreach and planting models to get more trees planted in low-canopy, underserved neighborhoods and communities. Canvassers have visited over 190,000 Portland properties to map available planting spaces and talk to residents about tree planting. Community volunteers with Friends of Trees have contributed nearly $2 million worth of volunteer hours in this effort.
Constructing Green Streets
867 new green street planters are complete, with more projects underway as part of the Tabor to the River Program, the SE Clay Green Street and other projects. The Green Street Stewards Program continues to expand, with businesses and individuals helping to care for green streets and beautify their neighborhoods. Environmental Services continues to monitor facility performance and improve designs to reduce maintenance costs.
Controlling Invasive Plants
Over 7,400 acres have been treated for invasive plants. This includes new area managed and followup land management through two programs that are part of the city’s comprehensive approach to invasive species management. Portland Parks & Recreation's Protect the Best program focuses on improving ecological health in natural area parks to prevent degradation from invasive species infestations and to reduce long-term maintenance costs. Environmental Services’ Early Detection Rapid Response program monitors and treats priority invasive plant species on parks, rights-of-way and private property, targeting new invaders such as garlic mustard, knotweed, and giant hogweed before they become well established. The invasive species program also supported the Youth Conservation Crew, which provides employment opportunities for a diverse population of youth ages 14-18 who help clear ivy from city parks.
Environmental Services and its partners are on track to remove or replace all nine culverts that block fish passage and create water quality problems in Crystal Springs Creek by 2015. Many partners have joined the effort to leverage Environmental Services funding nearly 1:1, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Metro, Portland Parks & Recreation, Reed College, the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, and NOAA. Five culverts have already been removed or replaced and construction started in 2013 for the culverts at SE Tacoma Street and Eastmoreland Golf Course. The project also includes restoration of the Westmoreland Park pond and facilities to manage stormwater runoff from area streets. In addition to this work in Crystal Springs, eight other culverts in the city have been removed or replaced to improve fish passage, water quality and hydrology.
191 ecoroofs covering 11 acres of rooftop have been completed since 2008. That’s the equivalent of more than eight football fields of new green roofs covering buildings and managing millions of gallons of stormwater before it reaches the sewer system. Many of these projects were constructed despite the economic downturn in the early years of Grey to Green with assistance from the city’s Ecoroof Incentive program. There are now a total of 398 ecoroofs in Portland, with more underway. More development projects are pairing ecoroofs with photovoltaic panels, or adding habitat features, to maximize benefits on Portland’s rooftops. Portland’s ecoroof industry has grown considerably, with over 300 members in the industry group called GRiT (Greenroof info Think-tank).
Acquiring and Protecting Open Spaces
Environmental Services and partners have purchased 406 acres of natural areas in the city to help protect natural stormwater management functions and clean water sources, including recent acquisition of the Broadmoor/Catkin Marsh Natural Area. Many natural areas are home to rare habitat types like wetlands and Oregon white oak savannah. Public land management, including removing invasive species and preventing erosion helps protect the natural functions we depend on. For example, just two seasons of land management and revegetation on the recently acquired River View Natural Area is helping the native forest come back to life, and community volunteers are helping restore the forest so it can sustain visitors in the future.
Natural Area Revegetation
The Watershed Revegetation Program works with public and private property owners to restore native vegetation on more than 4,100 acres since 2008. This includes planting over 500,000 new native tree and shrub seedlings and following up to make sure the new plants and trees are well established. Recent work includes revegetation of the new public natural area created as part of the Foster Floodplain Restoration project and revegetation efforts in Mt. Tabor Park.