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Storm damage recovery

West Lents Floodplain Restoration Project

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Environmental Services is designing a project to restore about 18 acres in the Johnson Creek floodplain. The project will reconnect Johnson Creek to its historic floodplain, reduce flooding on private property, restore habitat for fish and wildlife, and improve water quality in the creek.
Project design began in 2019 and will continue through 2024. Construction is expected to begin in early March 2025 and will be completed by mid-February 2026.
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Current efforts to restore Johnson Creek focus on returning it to a more natural state. This type of restoration provides a safe place for flood waters to spread out and soak into the ground.It also helps improve water quality and increases fish and wildlife habitat. 

Johnson Creek provides important habitat for coho and Chinook salmon, as well as steelhead and cutthroat trout.  While these species still exist in Johnson Creek and its tributaries, their long-term survival depends on our ability to restore habitat and improve water quality.  Johnson Creek also serves as a critical habitat corridor for a wide range of migrating and resident wildlife.

Project Area

The project will take place in natural areas along Johnson Creek, to the south of the Springwater Corridor Trail between SE 82nd and SE 92nd Avenues.

West Lents Project Area Map, updated February 2023
Simplified map for the West Lents Floodplain Restoration Project. Please note this map is not up to scale.

What's Happening Now

Project designers have reached the 90% design milestone. Designers are finalizing on how to include community access and interpretive features on the project site, as well as barriers and other methods for preventing access by motor vehicles. 

October 2023 to January 2024: Vegetation Removal 

All work is weather-dependent. 

Contractors will perform vegetation removal services intermittingly from October 2023 to January 2024. This general removal schedule ensures the project team works outside of bird nesting season and will not have an impact on wildlife:

  • Vegetation removal scheduled from October 9, 2023, to January 31, 2024. 
  • Expect crews to be working on site 2-3 times a month over the next 4 months. 
  • Additional vegetation removal work is scheduled for Fall/Winter 2024 as well. 
  • Post-construction planting is stated for Fall/Winter 2025. Planting habitats include shrubs, riparian forest, and upland forest areas.

Vegetation removal services below will occur during daytime hours between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the project area:

Targeted nuisance species includeEuropean Hawthorn, Norway Maple, Cut leaf Birch, English Holly, Bird Cherry, English Laurel, Black Locust, and Non-Native Blackberry. All wooden materials will either be left in place, stacked, or chipped. Crews intend to reincorporate all materials into the project in various forms: habitat piles, large wood placement, and woodchips to improve soil conditions for post-construction planting. We do not anticipate removing organic materials.

What to Expect

City contractors will take care to keep noise, dust, vibration, odor, traffic delays, and other potential construction nuisances to a minimum:

  • The public can expect to hear the following equipment during construction daytime hours: chainsaws, chippers, mowers, and other small equipment (handheld, small tracked, and/or wheeled equipment).
  • Crews will set up safe work zones to protect crews and the public from the hazards associated with construction.

Details are available online about pre-construction activitiesconstruction methods, and what to expect during construction.

What Will the Proposed Project Look Like?

Project designers have developed some initial concept designs.  The project is still being designed, so the specifics may change.  However, the images below provide a general sense of what the finished project may look like.

A graphic showing what the proposed restoration project will look like when complete.
A graphic showing the proposed West Lents Floodplain Restoration Project when complete.
a graphic diagram showing what the proposed completed project will look like in side view (known as a "section" view)
Diagram showing what the proposed completed project will look like inside view (known as a "section" view).

We Want to Hear from You

Environmental Services will inform residents and businesses about project activities and respond to questions and concerns in a timely manner. We encourage you to:

  • Project Webpage: Visit www.portland.gov/WestLents for current project details.
  • Project Updates: To receive email or text message updates for this project, we encourage you to sign up now at www.portland.gov/bes/signup. Updates provided through our free GovDelivery subscription service are the best way to stay informed about what’s happening and what to expect. You can also sign up for bulletins on other projects and topics.  
  • Questions: To submit questions or comments, please contact City staff by phone or email. 
  • Sewer Emergency or Odor Concern:Call 503-823-1700 immediately. The City Maintenance hotline is staffed all hours, all days (24/7).  

Project Background

In the 1930’s, the Federal Works Progress Administration partially straightened and rock-lined the banks of Johnson Creek in this area to try to reduce flooding. Unfortunately, these changes to the creek increased downstream flooding by disconnecting the creek from its floodplain. It also made the creek warmer by removing trees along the banks, and reduced habitat for endangered salmon, steelhead and other wildlife. In some places, untreated rainwater runoff from buildings and roads goes directly into the creek.

Environmental Services and its partners have been working for 25 years to address these issues and restore Johnson Creek. The West Lents Project is a high priority for Environmental Services. It will help restore the floodplain, improve water quality, and provide habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife.

What Are the Project Goals?

  • Enhance habitat for salmon, steelhead, and other wildlife.
  • Improve water quality in Johnson Creek.
  • Reduce how often nearby private property floods.

How will this be done?

  • Create space on City property to safely absorb the impacts of flooding.
  • Remove rock armoring from the streambanks and restore Johnson Creek to a natural channel.
  • Add wood to the channel and floodplain to enhance habitat complexity.
  • Establish native plant communities and public viewpoints.
  • Remove abandoned roadways and underground infrastructure.

Sign Up for Project Updates

Sign up for regular email or text message updates for the West Lents Floodplain Restoration Project through our free GovDelivery subscription service. These updates are the best way to stay informed about what’s happening and what to expect. You can also sign up for bulletins on other projects and topics. 

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This project will help protect the health of the Johnson Creek Watershed.

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Contact

K. Bullock-Clayton (she/they)

Community Outreach
phone number503-823-5759Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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