Several significant environmental restoration projects are happening here in some of Portland’s 298 miles of streams and rivers. The City Green blog has been a little quiet on these this summer, since staff working on these projects have been up to their waders (literally) most of the summer to meet tight in-water construction schedules. With the season coming to an end and some rainy days spent back at the office, it’s time for a few project updates.
Summer is the busy season for watershed restoration projects because state rules allow work in streams only during the summer months, when construction activities pose the least impact on fish during critical life stages: migration, spawning and rearing. Projects are carefully planned to comply with this rule.
Today is an update on progress in Crystal Springs Creek. Stay tuned later for updates on a major culvert replacement in the Columbia Slough, the South Waterfront Central Greenway project, and happenings in Stephens Creek. These projects assist in the recovery of endangered species, such as coho and Chinook salmon, and steelhead trout, and help the city meet other environmental regulations. (See maps of where coho, Chinook, and steelhead are swimming in Portland).
Tacoma Culvert Replacement -- then and now
This is the sixth of nine culverts being replaced along Crystal Springs Creek to improve water flow, fish passage and water quality in this creek in SE Portland. Replacing old culverts with fish-friendly culverts (or removing them, when possible), will open up nearly three miles of prime habitat for threatened salmon species and help improve water quality in Johnson Creek and the Willamette River. New culvert designs also reduce flooding and have a longer life span than the old infrastructure.
The city partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the old 4-foot wide culvert at Tacoma Street and SE 21st Ave with a new 14-foot wide culvert. To build the new culvert on this main arterial street while still allowing traffic in both directions, the construction was done in two phases. Travel lanes were shifted to one side of the street while each half of the culvert was constructed. In-water work is now complete and crews are working on installing the road, curbs, sidewalks, and railings by the end of October.
Westmoreland Park Restoration Project -- then and now
Crystal Springs Creek flows through Westmoreland Park on its way to the confluence with Johnson Creek. Migrating salmon avoided the duck pond there because the temperatures and sediment levels were too high. The pond also contributed to water quality problems down stream. This project, together with the culvert replacements on Crystal Springs Creek, will improve water quality and habitat while creating a healthier park for humans and wildlife.
Guided by the 2004 Master Plan for the park, this project removes the duck pond, creates a wetland in its place, and restores 2,400 linear feet of the creek to improve fish habitat. Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete the project. Besides addressing water quality and habitat for native salmon, the project also benefits native waterfowl, amphibians, and mammals, and improves park amenities for visitors, including trails, a boardwalk, and viewpoints.
The in-water work is now complete and Crystal Springs Creek is flowing in its new channel. Other work continues on the site through mid-December.
For more information on the Tacoma Culvert and Westmoreland Park restoration projects, visit these sites: www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Currentprojects/CrystalSpringsCreekrestoration.aspx
Eastmoreland Golf Course Culvert Replacement
Culvert number seven on Crystal Springs Creek is also being replaced and on track to be completed this month. Environmental Services is working with Portland Parks & Recreation on a project in the Eastmoreland Golf Course to replace this culvert under a maintenance road.
The old culvert was made of three pipes that constrained creek flow. That’s being replaced with a bridge that will span the natural channel of the creek. A grant from East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District helps fund this project. In-water work is complete on the site and crews are working on installing the new bridge deck.
After this fall, only two culverts remain blocking fish passage and impacting water quality in Crystal Springs Creek. Those culverts, under SE Bybee and SE Glenwood, will be replaced next year. For more information, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/crystalsprings.