The most recent land acquisition made with funding from Metro’s 2019 parks and nature bond measure and capital funds from the City of Portland is an important step toward creating a continuous protected stream corridor for endangered salmon right in the heart of Portland.
The .7-acre property includes a 240-foot section of Crystal Springs Creek, an ecologically significant waterway designated by the City of Portland as a salmon sanctuary. The spring-fed creek and its cold water supports documented populations of 16 species of fish. It is also where the “Stumptown scud” – a tiny crustacean found only in Portland – was first discovered.
The 2.4-mile creek flows from its source in Reed Canyon on the Reed College campus to Johnson Creek and ultimately, the Willamette River. Along the way, the creek meanders through Eastmoreland Golf Course and Westmoreland Park. This acquisition helps close one of the gaps between these large, protected green spaces.
“This acquisition emphasizes the importance of protecting water quality and wildlife habitat in urban areas as well as rural ones,” said Dan Moeller, Metro’s conservation program director. “It may not be possible to purchase hundreds of acres at a time in urban landscapes, like we sometimes can do in rural areas. But these smaller parcels can be just as critical in connecting existing parks and natural areas, creating greater climate resilience, and developing healthier fish and wildlife populations.”
The property, which historically was part of a farm, was purchased in partnership with the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES). Each agency provided half of the funding for the $685,000 purchase.
“This small parcel has mighty importance,” said Dawn Uchiyama, Environmental Services Director. “It fills a critical gap and links other restored areas of the creek. Each effort builds on the success of previous investments. It’s amazing to say that Portland is welcoming our wild salmon back home. In the age of climate change, our job is to continue to create and maintain healthy cold-water sanctuaries where fish and and other wildlife can find food, shelter, and refuge in Portland’s precious waterways.”
Environmental Services, along with community partners, has been working for years to restore the creek, removing nine culverts and planting streamside trees and shrubs. Those actions improve water quality and allow endangered salmon and other fish to travel freely from the Willamette River through Johnson Creek to reach the creek’s spawning and rearing habitats.
Metro and Environmental Services officially took possession of the parcel on April 27. Now the partners can begin to plan for the site’s restoration. This plan will include removing some existing structures and replacing invasive weeds with native plants that will protect the health of the stream and riparian environment.
Long-term, Environmental Services will manage the land and restoration, including continuing to work with partners in the Indigenous community, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Crystal Springs Partnership and others.
This is the 16th land acquisition purchased with funding from the 2019 parks and nature bond, creating a total of 529 acres acquired across target areas identified by the bond and its refinement plan.