Environmental Services awards $100,000 in Community Watershed Stewardship Program grants to eight community projects

Press Release
This year’s projects add to the 30-year history of the program and more than 340 watershed projects that Environmental Services has funded to restore nature in the city and benefit communities.

The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services today announced that eight community groups have been selected to receive this year’s round of Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) grants to restore the natural environment, develop leadership skills in underserved communities, and create positive change in neighborhoods and open spaces. 

A grove of ferns in the foreground with two children looking at them, and a teacher pointing to the ferns
Students with Camp Elso, a past and current grant recipient, learning about nature in a fern-filled city forest.

Portland City Council earlier this month approved the program’s budget to award a total of $100,000 each fiscal year for the next five years.

"I am proud of Environmental Services’ approach to watershed health,” said Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “These grants connect past, present, and future generations to the careful stewardship and conservation of our land and water resources.”

This round of annual grants begins July 1 and builds on the program’s 30-year history that has invested $2.1 million to support more than 340 community-led projects. The Environmental Services’ program is operated in partnership with Portland State University’s Indigenous Nations Studies Department. 

Four teens painting a mural. Orange paint in the background outlining a drawing of the mural that shows a great blue heron, a child, and a Native American symbol
Teens painting the mural that adorns the walls of the Division Midway Alliance.

“As Portlanders, we are deeply connected to our natural spaces,” said Environmental Services Director Dawn Uchiyama. “The Community Watershed Stewardship Program engages youth from underserved communities to gain leadership skills, build connections between people and nature, and restore the natural systems that soak up stormwater and provide multiple other benefits in the neighborhoods where we live.”

Uchiyama hailed one of last year’s grant recipients for a project completed this month. Khanh Le, project manager with Division Midway Alliance, engaged refugee youth in East Portland through workshops about the importance of watersheds, led a natural area field trip, a neighborhood cleanup, and worked with a local artist who led the youth in creating a mural at their office. “This is a program that creates a lasting impact on young lives and an enduring impact to the community,” she said.

This fiscal year’s grant recipients are:

  • Love is Stronger will lead youth in natural area stewardship, paddling, and environmental education, and offer stipends to engage youth in building lasting stewardship skills.
  • Friends of Tryon Creek will work on an Indigenous Technical Ecological and Cultural Knowledge (ITECK)-centered stream restoration project. The group will engage their youth workforce, as well as participants from two other non-profits - the Blueprint Foundation and Wisdom of the Elders. They will work together to gain skills while improving stream conditions to help young salmon return to the upper reaches of Tryon Creek.
  • Portland Refugee Support Group will hold workshops with a new cohort of refugee students who will learn plant identification and stewardship techniques that improve watershed health. 
  • ELSO Inc. will train a cohort of Black youth in culturally relevant watershed science, in preparation to share that knowledge with younger youth at camp and after-school settings.
  • Peninsula School will replace asphalt and install an outdoor science and nature play space. The project will include working with Harper’s Playground and Elbow Room to emphasize an accessible design.
  • Community Pulse will lead stormwater and river protection education workshops for Slavic immigrant youth. Partnerships include the Slavic Community Center of Northwest.
  • Salmon Watch will offer hands-on education programming that teaches the life cycle of salmon, environmental stewardship, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
  • Bridgeport Church will provide a garden and stewardship space for environmental education, and community gathering for newly sheltered residents and neighbors. Partners include Beacon PDX and Growing Gardens.

Find out more about the Community Watershed Stewardship Program.

About Environmental Services
Environmental Services - the City of Portland’s sewer and stormwater utility - protects public health and the environment by collecting and recovering resources from the city’s wastewater, managing stormwater, and restoring and protecting Portland’s rivers, streams, and watersheds. Learn more about Environmental Services.