December 1, 2014
Coho salmon are spawning in southeast Portland’s Crystal Springs Creek this fall for the first time in decades. Salmon can find their way farther upstream because of recent projects to remove culverts that prohibited fish passage. Since 2008, Environmental Services has worked with several partners to remove seven Crystal Springs Creek culverts.
In October, Environmental Services fish biologist Melissa Brown used an underwater camera to capture video of a pair of wild coho salmon spawning just upstream from one of the culvert removal projects. The video, including a captioned version, and more information about salmon in Crystal Springs Creek are posted at www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/66158.
“This work has allowed wild salmon to return to the city for the first time in a generation,” said Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “Crystal Springs Creek has Portland’s best fish habitat but it’s been inaccessible to salmon for 40 years, until now.”
When the federal government listed Portland salmon and steelhead as threatened species in 1998, the Portland City Council directed Environmental Services to lead salmon recovery efforts. Environmental Services restoration projects not only improve water quality and manage high stream flows to protect public health and safety, but they also create inviting habitat that native salmon require.
Crystal Springs is an important tributary to Johnson Creek, which flows to the Willamette River. Its naturally cool and steady year-round flow provide ideal salmon and steelhead habitat. Native salmon have also been found in Johnson Creek as far upstream as Gresham.
Steelhead trout, coho and Chinook salmon spend part of their life cycle in Crystal Springs Creek. They migrate to the Pacific Ocean then return to their original spawning grounds where they lay and fertilize eggs, then die.
It’s critical that observers keep their distance from spawning areas, keep dogs out of the creek, and do not disturb fish carcasses which provide nutrients essential to aquatic life.
Environmental Services worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on four Crystal Springs Creek culvert removal projects. Partners on the other projects were Metro, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland Parks & Recreation, NOAA-Fisheries, the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, Reed College and TriMet. Projects to remove the last two culverts on the creek are scheduled next year.
For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.
The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.