Local Issues

Arboretum improvement funding

DEQ awards Multnomah County Drainage District $129,783
in Columbia Slough habitat improvement funds
Wildlife will benefit from habitat improvements

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has awarded the Multnomah County Drainage District
$129,783 for habitat improvements in the Columbia Slough Watershed in Northeast Portland as part of
the Columbia Slough Natural Resource Fund. The award will help fund a number of habitat restoration
projects planned within the Columbia Slough.
Multnomah County Drainage District, along with its partners, will perform comprehensive restoration at
the Columbia Children’s Arboretum and Blue Heron Wetlands located near NE 13 th Avenue in the East
Columbia neighborhood. The project includes 12.6 acres of habitat in the Columbia Children’s
Arboretum as well as 10.7 acres surrounding the four wetland ponds that comprise the Blue Heron
Wetlands.
At the Columbia Children’s Arboretum, DEQ funds will be used to reduce invasive plants and re-establish
healthy native vegetation to enhance wildlife migration and the riparian canopy, where many trees are
at the end of their lifespans. The work is also expected to reduce erosion, improve water quality, and
improve native turtle habitat.
“I am thrilled that DEQ has provided funding to MCDD for restoration efforts in our Columbia Children’s
Arboretum,” said Gyrid Hyde-Towle, founding member of the Friends of the Arboretum. “We have
worked with many groups and volunteers to provide stewardship for our “gem” of a park and this
funding will provide us the ability to work with Portland Parks to continue our work of removing
invasives and restoring habitat.”
At Blue Heron Wetlands, efforts have been made since 2010 to eradicate an aquatic invasive weed,
Ludwigia peploides (Floating Primrose), which is the first known infestation in Oregon. Ludwigia
peploides reduces open water habitat for waterfowl, minimizes native vegetation for wildlife, and limits
the capacity of the wetlands to mitigate flooding. DEQ funds will address the remaining Ludwigia
peploides at the site, following a prescribed treatment plan developed by a graduate student at Portland
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
700 NE Multnomah St Suite #600, Portland, OR 97232 | Tel/503-229-5696State University. Native trees and shrubs will be planted within and adjacent to the wetlands, along with
native grass, sedge, and rush species.
MCDD will coordinate with the City of Portland Parks and Recreation, Portland Bureau of Environmental
Services, Friends of the Columbia Children’s Arboretum, Friends of Blue Heron Wetlands, and volunteers
to complete the work. Previously, small grants funded invasive plant removal in limited areas of the two
open spaces; the DEQ funds will support restoration of the entirety of the of natural spaces and five
years of maintenance to increase plant survival.
DEQ developed a settlement approach as an alternative to conducting sediment cleanup for qualifying
parties. Under this approach, DEQ provides parties a release from liability for historical contribution to
contamination in the slough if they pay into a fund that DEQ is using to conduct the necessary
investigation and cleanup work.
These parties also have the option of paying an additional amount into a separate fund that is used for
habitat enhancement projects such as this. Parties contributing to this “natural resource” fund receive a
release from liability for state natural resource damages associated with historical releases to the
slough. DEQ requires parties entering into these agreements to have controls in place at their sites to
prevent further sediment contamination in the Columbia Slough.
Find more information about the Columbia Slough Natural Resource Fund at
http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/cu/nwr/ColumbiaSlough/docs/FSColumbiaSloughNatRecFund.pdf .
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
700 NE Multnomah St Suite #600, Portland, OR 97232 | Tel/503-229-5696

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality News Release
Release Date: February 6, 2017
Contact: Sarah Miller, Cleanup Program, Portland 503-229-5040

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