News Releases

Environment, sense of community restored at Westmoreland Park

Published Oct. 22, 2014

PORTLAND, ORE. – Many Sellwood residents remember seeing salmon swimming in Crystal Springs Creek, but it has been over 40 years since they’ve been seen in large numbers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation are celebrating the completion of the Westmoreland Park Ecosystem Restoration project.  The joint effort removed barriers to fish passage and brings many more salmon back to the city.

“Crystal Springs Creek has the best salmon and steelhead habitat in Portland, and working with the Corps to make it accessible is a key part of our responsibility to recover endangered salmon and trout species,” said Portland Environmental Services Commissioner Nick Fish. “The Westmoreland Park restoration is one of several important projects that restore full fish access to the creek for the first time in 40 years.”

“It is exciting to see the results of a project that has had so much community support,” said Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté.  “During the 2004 Master Planning process, neighbors clearly indicated that they highly valued environmental restoration, and that they would support that focus in this renovated park.  Through a new opportunity for nature-based play adjacent to the Creek, we hope kids and parents alike will have a new appreciation for the natural world around us." 

Crystal Springs Creek is an important tributary to Johnson Creek, which flows to the Willamette River. Its naturally cool and steady year-round flow provides ideal habitat for fish, including endangered salmon and trout species.

“Environmental stewardship has been part of the Corps’ focus for more than 40 years,” said Col. Jose Aguilar, Portland District Commander. “The Westmoreland project allowed us to partner with the City to create a healthier stream for fish passage, and a healthier park where people can relax, explore and enjoy the outdoors. It was exciting to work with the City to help restore Crystal Springs Creek.”

The Westmoreland Park Ecosystem Restoration Project began in May 2012 and was completed in July 2014. This major undertaking replaced three culverts under busy neighborhood streets, removed a culvert and restored a one-third acre site at SE Umatilla and SE Tenino streets (2012), removed the man-made duck pond from Westmoreland Park (2013-2014) and restored the area to a natural wetland, through which Crystal Springs Creek meanders. It was a component of the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services’ Crystal Springs Restoration project to enhance conditions in the creek for the benefit of native fish and wildlife.

The Crystal Springs Partnership, Portland Parks & Recreation and BES are hosting an event to celebrate the park’s grand reopening on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  All are welcome; the meeting place for the celebration is Westmoreland Park, at SE 22nd Avenue and Bybee Boulevard.

"This restoration project is an important example of how we can apply traditional indigenous knowledge and work together to heal the land," said Judy BlueHorse Skelton, Indigenous Nations Studies faculty at Portland State University and a Portland Parks Board member.

Funding for the ecosystem restoration project was shared by the City of Portland and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with additional funds for park restoration contributed by TriMet, Metro, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA-Fisheries, and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. The project team also received tremendous support from the residents living near the construction sites, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Crystal Springs Partnership, Sellwood Moreland Improvement League and other citizen groups. Their support, patience and enthusiasm contributed to the success of this project.

Special thanks to Zac Perry, who, with support from Towny Angell and Reed College leadership, has dedicated 15 years of service to the Reed Canyon environment.  Perry spearheaded the transformation of 21 acres of high-quality wildlife habitat in Reed Canyon into the gem it is today. 

In the early part of the 20th century, many projects ignored natural resources during development.  Reed Canyon was no exception.  In the 1930's, the natural stream alignment was altered to make way for a swimming pool and bathhouses. Until 2000, the creek was piped under and diverted around the swimming pool.  The long pipe was impassable to fish - they had no access to the headwater springs. In addition, invasive plants were spreading unchecked throughout the canyon

Perry transformed the 21-acre area into a self-sustaining, ecologically balanced state in a relatively short time. He has spearheaded other restoration projects since that time, including the fish ladder and the Revelli Farm restoration at SE 28th Avenue.  Perry also revived the biannual Canyon Day event, an opportunity for community engagement in restoration. Much is owed to Zac Perry and to Reed College for showing exemplary leadership in changing our perceptions about our natural resources.

City of Portland contacts are  Ronda Fast, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, (503) 823-4921 and Mark Ross, Portland Parks & Recreation, (503) 823-5300.

Michelle Helms

Release no. 14-060

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