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Culvert Work Set For This Year To Aid Wild Salmon, Steelhead In Portland’s Johnson Creek
Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 (PST)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Portland Bureau of Environmental Services are co-hosts for an open house on Thursday, May 3 to discuss construction activities this summer to restore a portion of Crystal Springs Creek in southeast Portland. 


The project is part of the larger Crystal Springs Creek restoration effort to improve habitat and passage for coho and chinook salmon and steelhead trout.


Crystal Springs Creek is a tributary of lower Johnson Creek in southeast Portland. Johnson Creek in turn flows into the Willamette River, a tributary that feeds into the Columbia River at Portland. Crystal Springs Creek originates from a spring near Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course, an area that was once primarily marshy wetlands.


Before development, the wetlands retained excess water from flood events and provided important rearing and refuge habitat for salmon, and foraging and nesting sites for beavers, birds, turtles, frogs, and other wildlife.


Crystal Springs is spring fed, which keeps water temperatures cool and stream flow uniform throughout the year. That adds cool water to Johnson Creek in the summer when stream flow can be low and warm. Fish and amphibians thrive in cool water.


Crystal Springs is home to wild coho and chinook salmon, and steelhead trout. All three species are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and Crystal Springs is designated as critical habitat.


The City of Portland’s Environmental Services is working to enhance conditions in Crystal Springs Creek to benefit native fish.


There are nine culverts on Crystal Springs Creek between SE 28th Ave. and the creek's confluence with Johnson Creek. Many of the culverts inhibit fish from swimming upstream and downstream to reach spawning and rearing habitat. Culvert replacement or removal is a key element of recovery of endangered juvenile salmon and trout species. Replacing Crystal Springs Creek culverts with fish-friendly culverts will open up nearly three miles of prime habitat for threatened native fish species.


The city’s “Grey to Green” initiative allocated $2 million dollars to replace eight culverts in Crystal Springs Creek over a five-year span. Environmental Services is collaborating and leveraging funds with other bureaus, agencies, and partners to replace all fish passage barriers in Crystal Springs by the end of 2014.


Construction in 2012 is Phase I of this project and is part of a larger Crystal Springs Creek restoration effort. Beginning in July, the Corps will replace two culverts at SE Umatilla and SE Tenino streets, restore a stream corridor, remove a driveway culvert at SE 21st Avenue, and install green streets for stormwater management and treatment.


Phase II construction, scheduled for 2013, includes a culvert replacement at SE Tacoma Street, site restorations and stormwater management at locations on S.E. Tacoma Street and SE 21st Avenue, and restoration of a stream corridor at Westmoreland Park.


The Crystal Springs and Westmoreland Park Ecosystem Restoration project is a partnership between the Corps and the city of Portland. It is authorized under Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2008, which allows the Corps to partner with non-federal agencies to restore degraded aquatic ecosystems. Project costs are shared between the Corps (65 percent) and the city (35 percent).


Doors open at the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) station at 8210 SE 13th Ave., Portland, Ore., at 5:30 p.m.; the Corps will present a brief description of the project and outline construction activities at 6 p.m. Representatives from the Corps, Environmental Services and Hamilton Construction will be available to answer questions until 7:30 p.m.


For more information about the meeting call or email Michelle Helms at 503-808-4517 or, or Ronda Fast at 503-823-4921 or


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