Portland, OR—The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality awarded Portland Parks & Recreation $55,199 for habitat improvements in the Columbia Slough Watershed in North Portland.
Portland Parks & Recreation will perform a comprehensive restoration at Whitaker Ponds Nature Park. Whitaker Ponds Nature Park extends over approximately 24 acres near NE 47th Ave., encompassing West and East Whitaker Ponds and the southern bank of the Whitaker Slough, a tributary of the Columbia Slough. The ponds provide important native turtle habitat along with excellent turtle viewing opportunities.
DEQ funds will be used to remove invasive terrestrial and aquatic plants, diversify understory vegetation, stabilize Slough banks and convert a small grass field to a native cottonwood/ash forest. The work includes two years of active invasive treatment and planting of approximately 4,000 trees and shrubs, followed by three years of vegetation maintenance.
Whitaker Ponds Nature Park work will be performed by Portland Parks & Recreation staff and Columbia Slough Watershed Council volunteers. The Columbia Slough Watershed Council has secured a Metro Nature in the Neighborhood grant valued at approximately $24,000 to complete project funding.
“This grant will build on more than a decade of work by Portland Parks & Recreation and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “We are grateful for the funding to help reinvigorate Whitaker Ponds Natural area through a comprehensive restoration. We thank the DEQ for their commitment to our area natural areas and livability of our city, state, and region.”
“It is exciting that visitors to Whitaker Ponds will be able to appreciate these tangible improvements first-hand, as they walk the trails, floating docks and viewpoints around the ponds,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté.
DEQ created the Columbia Slough Natural Resource Fund with monies from entities associated with sites that likely contributed to sediment contamination in the slough. Parties owning and/or operating facilities in the Columbia Slough watershed that have contributed to contamination in the slough are liable for the cleanup. 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.
Those liable for cleanup 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/ColumbiaSloug...
Sarah Miller, Cleanup Program, DEQ, Portland, 503-229-5040, email@example.com
Matthew Van Sickle, Public Affairs, DEQ, Portland, 503-229-6044, firstname.lastname@example.org