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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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An Earth Day look at 20 years of bringing back native vegetation

News Release

April 22, 2016

This Earth Day, people and wildlife on the Columbia Slough can enjoy the successes of a program responsible for planting more than one million native trees and shrubs in Portland watersheds over the last 20 years. The Bureau of Environmental Services Watershed Revegetation Program manages natural area and riparian corridor restoration work that supports improvement to water quality and natural habitat functions in the Portland metropolitan area.

The program started work in the Columbia Slough watershed in February 1996. Since then, revegetation teams have planted over 1.3-million native tree and shrub seedlings and restored vegetation on over 1,100 acres of natural area and riparian corridor in the slough watershed.

The program worked so well along the Columbia Slough that Environmental Services expanded it to the Johnson Creek watershed in 2000. Today, the program works on restoration projects all around Portland, but reforestation of the slough’s riparian corridors has always been the cornerstone of its work.

People who canoe the slough today are likely to enjoy dense stands of native trees and shrubs on both banks. But 20 years ago, the view was more likely to be industrial buildings and dense stands of invasive blackberries growing out of control.

near the St. Johns landfill 1997  near the St. Johns landfill 2013
A slough bank near the St. Johns landfill in 1997 (left) and in 2013 (right)

The change in landscape along the slough is dramatic in many places because of the program and the support and cooperation of many landowners and project partners including Multnomah County Drainage District, Portland Parks & Recreation, Metro and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council.

Through the Watershed Revegetation Program, Environmental Services forms partnerships with public and private landowners to restore degraded stream bank and upland areas. The restoration work improves water quality, controls erosion, reduces stormwater pollution, aids in long-term salmon recovery, and enhances wildlife habitat.

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.