A bi-monthly round-up of news about the Willamette and Columbia

April 10, 2012
Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
Coming Right Up! Events, Trips, and Other River Happenings.



Learn about the new Portland Harbor Superfund Feasibility Study at four public open house and information sessions. April 11, 12, 18, and May 10. The Study is  the "toolbox" from which EPA will select the plan for cleaning up the Superfund site. The site's background, community impacts, next cleanup steps, and opportunities for public involvement will all be discussed at the meetings.  


Oregon Maritime Museum: FREE Family Saturday...nautical terms. April 21, 11 am to 4 pm. "Join us once again for aboard the historic steam-powered tug PORTLAND. Families of up to 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 14 enjoy free admission to the main exhibit space!"

If the Willamette River could talk, what would it say? 
  April 11, 7-8:30 pm. McMenamin's Kennedy School Gym, 5736 NE 33rd Ave., Portland.
Join Oregon experts as they lead you on a journey through the Willamette River, sharing stories of its ecological past and visions for its future. Introductory remarks by Congressman Blumenauer. Co-hosted by The Freshwater Trust. Moderated by Doug Stamm, Meyer Memorial Trust.

--------------- Around the Corner...-----------------


April 17 River in Focus Brownbag: EPA's Urban Waters Program. Stay tuned for details.
2nd Annual Regional Trails Fair--April 25, 1-3 pm, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland. Meet and network with trail planners, agency staff, non-profit organizations and trail advocates all in one location! Learn everything you always wanted to know about trails in the four-county metro area.

River Rally Comes to Portland-May 4-7.  The annual gathering of the international watershed conservation community comes to town, featuring over 95 educational workshops and intensive training sessions; keynotes by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Alexandra Cousteau; and a special focus on the Clean Water Act at 40.  ---------------    
River Heritage Day, June 23
, 10 am to 3 pm, in West Linn's Willamette Park. Celebrate West Linn's rich history along the beautiful Willamette and Tualatin Rivers!

And check out more river events on the Rivers Office calendar page... 
Portland Harbor Superfund News 
superfund site map
New Superfund Study Submitted. On March 30th, the Lower Willamette Group submitted a draft report on sediment cleanup options for an 11-mile stretch of the Lower Willamette River to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The draft study will be the "toolbox" from which EPA designs a clean up plan.

 Portland Harbor property owners make biggest pitch yet for lower-cost Superfund cleanup.  "Lower-cost options for cleaning up the Portland Harbor Superfund site will leave more pollution in the river bottom but cut health and environmental risks at least as well as the priciest alternatives, a coalition of harbor property owners says in a milestone report released today. Costs for scrubbing Willamette River sediments on an 11-mile run through Portland's industrial heart range from just under $200 million to more than $1.7 billion, the draft "feasibility study" says." OregonLive.com, March 30

 River businesses ready to unveil Superfund plan. Portland Business Journal, March 27.

What the Muck? The Portland Harbor is a toxic embarrassment. And there's plenty of blame to go around. Willamette Week, March 28

Lawsuit questions city Superfund spending.  Portland Tribune, March 26

 Cutting through the muck. "The Portland Harbor conversation must ramp up while focusing on things unseen and underwater. That's where the attentions of regulators are -- justifying dredging here and capping there, directly affecting the fortunes of so many industries and the Willamette River itself. Federal regulators are obligated to choose a course that has local support. Portlanders need to make clear what that course is." OregonLive.com, April 8

Yakama Nation Challenges Willamette River Polluters to Clean and Protect Lower Columbia River. Indian Country Today Media Network.com, April 8

portland harbor

 New Stats Show Port is Job Generator.  "According to a new economic impact analysis, the Port of Portland generated 26,598 direct, induced and indirect jobs, $1.7 billion in wages, salaries and consumption impacts, $4.6 billion in business revenue and more than $164 million in state and local taxes in 2011."  Port of Portland media release, March 21


export graph
Oregon's Domestic and Foreign Exports. "Thanks to its coastal location, Oregon has a history of exporting valuable products to foreign markets. From Captain Robert Gray exporting furs to China to in the late 1700s to millions of board feet of Port Orford cedar exported to Japan in the 1960s, exports have been a big part of Oregon's economy. ... international manufactured exports supported 31,700 of Oregon's manufacturing jobs and 39,500 non-manufacturing jobs in 2009. Overall, the estimates suggest that foreign trade supported 5.1 percent of Oregon's private-sector employment in that year." Oregon Employment Department, April 5.


West Hayden Island
Photo: Port of Portland
West Hayden Island development plan more environmentally conscious. "A new development plan for West Hayden Island, an 826-acre plot of land at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, could help convince the city of Portland to annex the island. The plan ... calls for building a marine terminal that would use only 300 acres of land - significantly fewer than the city originally thought would be needed."  DJCOregon.com, March 26

Port plan for island gets tepid response-Consultant urges use of Vancouver site, not West Hayden Island. Portland Tribune, March 29

Morrison Bridge
Photo: Multnomah County


Portland public market plans advance. "Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen announced a tentative deal with Melvin Mark Development Co. Friday to launch a Pike Place-style market at the west end of the Morrison Bridge. Envisioned as an "iconic gateway" to downtown, the market would host 110 local vendors of food and food-related products and sit next to a new office tower on Southwest First Avenue." OregonLive.com, March 23


 Morrison Bridge construction work complete."...the $4.2 million project to replace open steel grating on the Morrison Bridge is finally complete."  DJCOregon.com, March 26 


  Adams: Moving I-5 on east side would "reconnect" city. "Mayor Sam Adams has released a draft proposal for relocating a portion of Interstate 5 over inner Southeast Portland. Adams posted the proposal on his City Hall website and asked for public comments on the plan. The proposal did not, however, include cost estimates or time schedules. The proposal calls for burying the portion of the freeway that passes of the Central East Side Industrial District but maintain many of the access ramps." Portland Tribune, April 6
Virginia Lake on Sauvie Island

Help for Salmon on Sauvie Island.
"The Estuary Partnership is working ... with Oregon State Parks and Recreation and West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District at Wapato Access, a natural area [on] Sauvie's Island. The purpose ... is to improve the connection between Multnomah Channel and the lake at Wapato Access ...to allow young salmon to enter the lake for feeding and refuge..."  Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership e-update, March 28

(image: Mike Houck on the intertwine.org)


Bald eagle's triumph is ours. "Where Oregon had 65 resident nesting pairs of bald eagles in 1978, it now has about 570 in venues stretching from the Klamath Basin to Ross Island in the Willamette River near downtown Portland..."  OregonLive.com, March 24



 Species on the brink-Biologist works to crack the mystery of what happened to the Sandy River smelt. "Exact reasons for the decline are unknown. NOAA speculates that several factors including habitat loss and degradation, pollution, river dredging and global climate change may all play roles. ...Olds also hopes to survey the Willamette River, where he expects eulachon will be found."  Sandy Post, March 28 (Photo: US Fish & Wildlife) 


 Cowlitz River smelt data suggest run may be rebounding. "The run apparently lasts longer and the fish are swimming farther up rivers than biologists previously believed. There are indications that the run is rebounding, too. ... The Corps expects to receive a new biological opinion on smelt from NMFS in the next couple of months, according to Corps spokeswoman Michelle Helms. 'When that comes out, we'll have a better understanding of what it means to our dredging operations,' she said."  The Daily News Online, March 29


 Oregon Shrimpers Using Bycatch Reduction Devices To Avoid Catching ESA-Listed Eulachon (Smelt). "Bycatch reduction devices ... are aimed at preventing ...smelt from becoming bycatch in the Oregon pink shrimp fishery." To see a video of eulachon escaping from a shrimp trawl, click here. Columbia Basin Bulletin, March 30


bull trout release
Photo: ODFW

Clackamas River Bull Trout Reintroduction Project Using Metolius Fish Awarded; Spawning Documented. "Five Oregon public employees have been honored for taking bull trout restoration in the Clackamas River from concept to reality over a period of several years ... Not only did the team lay the groundwork for the successful initial reintroduction of more than 100 bull trout last year, some of the fish are already spawning in their new home waters." Click here for ODFW video. Columbia Basin Bulletin, March 23 


 Grant to buy boats for crisis response-County, Vancouver could add capacity on Columbia River. "The Vancouver Fire Department and Clark County Fire & Rescue are one step closer to getting new boats to help with emergency responses on the Columbia River, thanks to a federal grant. The U.S. Coast Guard awarded a $2.7 million grant to purchase three new boats to be stationed along the lower Columbia." The Columbian, April 9, 2012  

Don't let a 139-year-old treasure stay closed. "The 139-year-old Willamette Falls Canal and Locks, owned and operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers since 1915, have been pulled from service and are again threatened with long-term or permanent closure. Closure destroys the Locks contribution to marine transport, tourist attraction, recreation and heritage values..." OregonCityNewsonline.com, March 27

 Adam McIsaac fell in love with Columbia River art; now others are loving his art. "..Enchanted by art, he left Clark College to study the ways of the early Columbia River people. Over the past 18 years, he has chiseled his way into their history. ... Right now he's using a Canadian Red Cedar log to carve eight-foot panels and wallboards for the new Oregon State Hospital wing in Salem. 'There is a Columbia River renaissance,' said McIsaac, 38... 'I'm passionate about it. It's hard to get the general public to realize there was an indigenous art form here. It's relevant and real, and it needs to be seen like that.' " OregonLive.com, March 23  





Failing Columbia River dike threatens deer refuge. "A dike near the mouth of the Columbia River near Cathlamet is failing, and a collapse could flood part of a 2,000-acre refuge for endangered Columbian white-tailed deer." Seattle Times, April 6  (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife) 

To view past River News Digests, click here.  

To submit news,email Rick Bastasch, or call 503.823.0275


NOTE: River News Digest is a compilation of interesting items and announcements relating to rivers-with a focus on better understanding, enjoying, and caring for our local rivers, while touching on items from around the country and the world. Please note much of the information is from sources other than the City of Portland [like news media, non-profit organizations, and other government agencies]. The Rivers Office lists these items for information purposes only and is not responsible for their content.