The Portland City Council today unanimously approved $100,000 for the Bureau of Environmental Services’ Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) to provide grants to nine community projects that restore the natural environment, cultivate leadership in underserved communities, and create positive change in their neighborhoods.
Now in its 27th year, the Environmental Services’ program has supported more than 330 community projects that build rain gardens, turn paved areas into natural spaces, and restore green spaces while providing education and professional development opportunities for participants. It is operated by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services in partnership with Portland State University’s (PSU) Indigenous Nations Studies Department.
Each year, these partnership produces an outpouring of energy from volunteers who dig in to support these community-led initiatives.
“As Portlanders, we love to come together as a community in support of our green spaces,” said Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “The Community Watershed Stewardship Program brings leadership from underserved communities to promote stewardship and watershed health that has lasting impact.”
Commissioner Mapps congratulates this year’s grant recipients:
- ELSO Inc. ($12,000) – The grant will support Black-identified youth to participate in environmental education experiences led by peer mentors, including water quality investigations, natural area revegetation, garden installation, and invasive species removal.
- Gather: Make: Shelter (GMS) ($10,000) – The grant will support exploration and learning opportunities in the Columbia Slough Watershed's natural areas to unhoused community members who participate in the organization’s services.
- Green Lents ($12,000) – Through the grant, the organization will expand tree cover at Lent Elementary School to provide heat relief and reduce air and noise pollution from nearby I-205, and connect the community members to urban ecology and environmental justice. Language assistance will be offered to non-English speaking participants.
- Grow Portland ($10,000) – The grant will help the group partner with Indigenous community members to develop native planting designs, create education curricula, and enhance planting spaces at multiple garden sites.
- Growing Gardens ($12,000) – The grant will help the organization work with inmates and correctional officers at the Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI) in NE Portland to build a garden and a bioswale. The project teaches healthy watershed gardening practices, and provides inmates, who are in a recovery program, with an increased sense of environmental knowledge and awareness, job credentials, self-agency, and healing.
- Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership ($9,889) – Through the grant, the group will provide 4th and 5thgrade students from a predominantly low-income school with hands-on classroom science lessons, followed by a field trip to experience local wildlife, reinforce classroom learning, and engage in a native plant restoration project.
- Social Justice Action Center (SJAC) ($10,000) – Grant funds will be used to create a native plant habitat at the center, and provide a safe green space where service recipients and volunteers can take refuge, be inspired, and learn about the beneficial functions of native plantings.
- Tryon Creek Watershed Council ($10,950) – The grant helps the group involve immigrant youth in education and on-the-ground watershed restoration and training. Workshops involve an introduction to watershed science and stewardship projects to remove invasive plants and plant natives.
- World Salmon Council ($10,000) – Grant funds will be used by students from the Blueprint Foundation, Native American Youth and Family Center, Latino Network and Girl Scouts to mark storm drains, plant trees, and restore riparian areas to learn about and participate in salmon-saving initiatives.
Environmental Services protects public health and our environment as Portland’s sewer and stormwater utility. We collect and recover resources from wastewater. We prevent pollution and flooding from stormwater. We protect and restore Portland’s rivers, streams, and watersheds for all Portlanders — now and for future generations. Follow our news on Twitter @BESPortland and portland.gov/BES/news.