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Portland Parks & Recreation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Environmental Services Work to Restore Westmoreland Wetland Area and Crystal Springs Creek

News Article
Project to Restore Salmon Runs, Plant Hundreds of Native Trees and Plants, Enhance Recreation
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Project to Restore Salmon Runs, Plant Hundreds of Native Trees and Plants, Enhance Recreation

(Portland,OR) –

Work will begin in summer 2013 to restore Portland Parks & Recreation’s Westmoreland Park’s wetland area and Crystal Springs Creek. Thousands of plantings, including 389 native trees, are planned for the park.  Additionally, boardwalks and overlooks, seating, paths, lighting, and picnic areas will be included as detailed in the 2004 Westmoreland Park Master Plan.

The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland Parks & Recreation, TriMet, and Metro are partners in the Westmoreland Park/Crystal Springs Restoration Project.

The goal of the Westmoreland Park/Crystal Springs Restoration Project is to restore Crystal Springs Creek, and support recovery of endangered salmon and trout species. The restoration includes planting wetland habitat for native waterfowl, amphibians and mammals, and reinstalling recreational facilities. The partners will restore the stream channel in the park, plant native vegetation, and improve the trailhead.

“Restoring ecosystems and improving watershed health is an important facet of the Corps mission,” said Col. John Eisenhauer, commander of the Corps of Engineers’ Portland District. “Most of our past restoration efforts have been in rural or suburban settings, so it is exciting to have this opportunity to bring salmon back into the city, in a way that is good for the fish and the neighborhood.”

“This project is an important part of our work to ensure that native salmon will always return to this important urban stream,” says Environmental Services Director Dean Mariott. “Enhancing fish habitat is key to the recovery of threatened salmon and trout, and this project improves their chances of recovery.”

The project will restore salmon runs, allowing access for fish for the first time since the 1970s. When work is complete, salmon will once again pass through the cool, clear waters of Crystal Springs Creek, which flows through Westmoreland Park.

“We’ll be seeing rejuvenated spawning routes and new habitat for thousands of fish,” notes Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “It’s wonderful to embrace this terrific partnership and realize these efforts to get the wetlands back to what nature intended.”

The project will remove theWestmorelandParkduck pond, a source of heat and sediment. In place of the duck pond, a wetland, planted with native trees and shrubs, will shade and cool the creek and improve wildlife habitat.

Fourteen trees are being removed for the project. Nine of the trees to be removed are non-native. Many of the trees to be removed are in failing health; these trees were not planted in an appropriate environment. In their place will be 389 trees (specifically chosen to thrive in this location) and nearly 15,000 plantings.

“I am thrilled we will be able to create access for salmon once again in this part of the city, while preserving well over a hundred existing trees,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté. “We will do everything we can to preserve today’s urban canopy while planting hundreds of new trees that will expand it even further as they grow. This is an exciting chance to improve both valued natural habitat and recreation opportunities for kids and adults alike.”

About Crystal Springs Creek

The creek is a tributary to Johnson Creek, and home to fish, river otter, heron, eagles and frogs. Its naturally cool water and steady, year-round flow provide ideal fish habitat. Endangered salmon and trout, including Coho, Chinook and steelhead, migrate through Westmoreland Park to the ocean and back to spawn.

There are nine culverts on Crystal Springs Creek between SE 28th Avenue and the creek’s confluence with Johnson Creek. Culvert replacement or removal is a key element of recovery for endangered juvenile salmon and trout species. BES is working with local and federal agencies, as well as partners, to replace all nine culverts by 2015. To date, five of the culverts have been removed or replaced, and for the first time since the early 1970s, winter salmon are returning to the headwaters of Crystal Springs Creek in Reed College Canyon.

Portland Parks & Recreation is Salmon-Safe!

PP&R is the only parks district in the entire nation to be certified as Salmon-Safe. (…)

Our stewardship of the wild fish is accomplished through an integrated approach to watershed and natural resource issues.

Portland Parks & Recreation plays an important role in maintaining the city’s green infrastructure. Our region’s unique geography means that fish spawning in the pristine creeks of the Cascades must first swim through downtown Portland.

By accepting the Salmon-Safe recertification, Portland Parks & Recreation continues its commitment to be mindful of water quality and watershed connections in all of its operations, on all 200-plus park sites. Portland Parks & Recreation will continue efforts to maintain and continually improve system-wide salmon-friendly practices, and endeavor to set an example for the City of Portland, the Northwest, and park agencies nationwide.

Westmoreland Park Nature-Based Play Area

In coordination with this project, PP&R will be constructing the City of Portland’s first permanent nature play area in Westmoreland Park. When work is complete, the play area will reflect the environmental values embodied by the creek restoration. Children and adults will experience and enjoy nature in the city. The park will also receive new recreational amenities, including a relocated basketball court.

Park Impacts

Westmoreland Park will be closed west of the primary path from SE Bybee to Lambert streets. One bridge, located near the maintenance building, will remain open during the restoration (beginning summer 2013), allowing access from the east side of the park to SE 22nd Ave. All other bridges will be closed. The east side of the park (tennis courts, lawn bowling, restrooms, ball fields, casting pond, parking lot and new basketball court to be built south of the casting pond) will be open and accessible via McLoughlin Blvd., SE Bybee and SE Nehalem St. Expect to see construction equipment throughout the summer.

Project Funding

The restoration of Crystal Springs Creek inWestmorelandParkwill cost approximately $2 million. TriMet construction mitigation from the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project will contribute $200,000. The remaining costs will be shared between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Parks & Recreation, and Metro, through Metro Local Share Bond 2006.