News: Restoring salmon to an urban park
Story by Michelle Helms
PORTLAND, Ore. - Crystal Springs Creek is one of thousands of small streams flowing through the Pacific Northwest. Most provide ideal habitat for fish, but this creek has not supported fish passage for about 40 years.
“We have accounts of salmon dating from the '50s, '60s,” said Ronda Fast, Environmental Program coordinator, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. “Then the culverts went in and the salmon populations declined.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the well being of 53 special status species, including endangered salmon and trout species such as coho, Chinook and steelhead.
The Corps is partnering with the city of Portland to lure salmon back to the creek by replacing the small 4-foot-diameter pipe culverts that restrict water flow with 14-foot-wide natural-bottom culverts.
Culvert replacement is a key element of recovery of endangered juvenile salmon and trout species. Biologists say salmon are already returning to areas where culverts have been replaced along Crystal Springs Creek.
In addition to culvert replacements, the Corps is transforming the existing concrete-lined duck pond at Westmoreland Park into a wetland area through which Crystal Springs Creek will meander.
The restoration will reduce water temperatures and improve habitat for threatened native salmon, said Corps project manager Jim Adams.
It will also restore habitat for native waterfowl, amphibians and mammals.
Sustainability and stewardship go hand-in-hand. The Corps must be good stewards of both financial and natural resources. Costs for the Westmoreland restoration project are shared between the Corps and the city of Portland. While both organizations have their own goals and interests, the project is the priority.
“Ultimately both agencies see the value of the project itself,” said Fast. “We all care about the project more than we care about our own turf.”
The Westmoreland project reflects the Corps’ commitment to environmental stewardship by restoring degraded ecosystems and improving aquatic health.
“When this project is done the park is going to be a lot healthier for people and for native wildlife,” said Adams.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers strives to protect, sustain, and improve the natural and man-made environment of our nation, and is committed to compliance with applicable environmental and energy statutes, regulations, and executive orders. Sustainability is not only part of the Corps' decision processes, but is also part of its culture.