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

July 27, 2012
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Events, Trips, and Other River Happenings       

 depave baltimore woods 

From Parking Lot to Paradise-Community Celebration. Join Friends of Baltimore Woods and Partners to celebrate the Depave & re-greening of a 2 acre riverside parking lot. July 28, 10 am - 3 pm. N. Catlin & N. Edison. Festivities, refreshments, live music, walking tours. All ages. 

Columbia Slough Regatta. July 29, 9am to 1pm. St Johns Canoe Launch, 9363 N Columbia Blvd. Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council's annual celebration of the Columbia Slough with a huge on-the-water festival  
big float 2 poster

The Big Float 2! July 29. Starts at 10 am. Join the flotilla. Share in the "great crossing" and participate in the grandest pool party Portland has ever seen! Open to all ages (life jackets required).

Sidewalks on Broadway Bridge to close one at a time beginning Monday, July 30, at 6 a.m. for two weeks.


Portland By Cycle Ride: Ride the Waterfront. Tuesday, July 31, 6 - 8 pm. A warm summer evening and cool river breezes make for a great ride.   


Portland Harbor draft restoration plan public meetingAugust 2, 4:30-6:30 pm, PSU, Smith Memorial Student Union-R 238, 1825 SW Broadway. Kid-friendly and with refreshments!   


Women On Bikes Ride - Bridge the Gap. Thursday, August 2, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Head across the Willamette River to Waterfront Park.


Risky Business: Probability, Perception, and The Portland Harbor Superfund Site.   August 6,  7:00pm   At this Science Pub, Dr. Dave Stone will walk you through what we know about the science behind risk analysis and risk perception. Using examples from everyday life and issues local to Portland, Dr. Stone will highlight the basics of toxicology and perspectives on risk using real issues from the Willamette River and the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. $5. 


Pay-what-you-wish BridgeWalk (all proceeds go toward publication of the Big & Awesome Bridges book). August 11.


Providence Bridge Pedal. August 12.     


swan island esplanadeSeaport Celebration Presented by Gunderson. August 18, 10 am - 4 pm. Free admission & parking. Get VIP access to a working marine terminal at the Port of Portland's Terminal 4 and take in the sights and sounds of the working harbor. With $5 jet boat rides, a $10 Portland Spirit cruise, live entertainment, interactive and fun activities for kids and adults, food carts and more, there's much to explore! 


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SummerSummer 2012 on the River!
Click here for a Rivers Office listing of some of the great events
that will get you out or along our rivers this Summer.

news from neighborhood2Neighborhood

2012 Portland Bridgeswim

Photo: Portland Bridgeswim


Dozens jump into Willamette for bridge swim. KGW.com, July 22


Open-water swimming: An athlete's masterstroke. "...swimming long distances in large bodies of water is something different. It's cold and dark and disorienting. ... And there are waves, tides, floating debris, boats and, in some places, jellyfish to consider. ... Events like the Portland Bridge Swim aren't for rookies. Swimming 11 miles in open water is roughly the equivalent of running one of those wacky 100-mile races that start in Death Valley and end up on top of a mountain somewhere." OregonLive.com, July 15


Big Float organizer: Willamette River is Portland's overlooked 'gigantic swimming pool'. "After 15 years in the city, Levenson has become an evangelist for establishing swimming spots downtown. Given water quality improvements, he wants Portlanders to get past the stigma of decades of Willamette pollution and jump in." OregonLive.com, July 25


 Willamette River is Cootie-Free and Beach-Ready. "Forget your fears of growing a third arm on contact with the Willamette River. According to Will Levenson, one of the organizers of The Big Float on July 29, the river is 'scientifically 100 percent safe for people swimming in it.' " Willamette Week, July 17


The Big Float invites Portland to ride the waves across the Willamette River on floaty gear. KBOO.fm, July 18


'The Big Float' Celebrates Improved Health of the Willamette River. The Skanner, July 19


What's So Great About This Swim Warning Sign? "Portland Parks & Recreation will be installing several warning signs in the next week listing the risks of swimming in the Willamette River: ...Will Levenson, who runs Popina Swim in Northwest Portland, is thrilled. Levenson wants to banish the stigma of swimming in the Willamette ... and create beaches that welcome city swimmers. He thinks the warning signs will help." OPB Ecotrope, July 23 swan island esplanade  


Warning signs at proposed Willamette beach. "This week the city of Portland plans to post signs at a proposed swimming area in the Willamette River. Advocates for the beach said this sign will mark a victory but the city described it as a matter of safety." KGW.com, July 25

Gunderson Dedicates Second Habitat Roof. "Portland City Commissioner, Dan Saltzman, and Mark Eitzen, General Manager of Gunderson LLC, dedicated a 2,400 square foot habitat roof on Monday, July 23rd, at the Gunderson facility on Front Avenue. This accomplishment continues Gunderson's efforts to determine the habitat value that can be created on such roofs. The roof was fabricated and erected by Gunderson's workers and is almost two and a half times the size of the first such roof dedicated in June 2011. ... The Gunderson habitat roof incorporates design information from the BES Ecoroof Handbook. The design and plantings of the roof also benefited from collaboration with the dedicated members of the local Greenroof Info Think-tank (GRiT).." Greenbrier Companies press release, July 24, on PR Newswire

  gunderson ecoroof

First ecoroof at Gunderson (photo: Gunderson Environmental)


Portland barge, railcar manufacturer picks up steam. "In a massive warehouse at the 58-acre Gunderson plant on the Willamette River, sledgehammers thundered, welding torches hissed with neon sparks and warning bells screamed. Building barges is noisy. ... a thin, smooth bead of metal followed the seams between the steel sheet and structural H-beams set across it - the skeletal ribs of a barge. At this point, the metal skin has already been cut by a plasma laser; the flanges have been bent by two 25-foot brakes. ...Today, payroll is closer to 900, but filling those positions has been difficult. [Mark Eitzen, Gunderson's vice president and general manager] feels his industry is being neglected by public education. 'We've got guys that come in here and they can't read a tape measure; they can't do simple fractions,' he said. 'This isn't high-level math. This isn't algebra. This is fractions. This is fifth-grade, sixth-grade math for Pete's sake and they're clueless. That's embarrassing when you (begin to ask): How are we going to compete in the global economy if this is what our education system is putting out?' In response, Gunderson created its own training department. Joy said the company has about 40 people enrolled in Weld Tech, a two- to eight-week intensive welding course. Also, existing employees can go back to practice and take tests on more difficult skills to improve their salary." DJCOregon, July 26  

swan island esplanadeIn Portland: A CSA ... On A Superfund Site? "A Portland company that specializes in rainwater collection and aquaponics - growing plants and fish in water - wants to start a new kind of community supported agriculture right on this pavement [within the boundaries of the Portland Harbor Superfund site]" OPB Ecotrope, July 23 (Photo: Portland Purple Water)  


Green Anchors: A Social Enterprise Grows on the Willamette. "North of downtown Portland along the Willamette River, just beyond the St. John's bridge, lies a piece of land-part of the old port of Portland. Green Anchors is focused on incubating businesses that bring new solutions to an urban economy. Re-juvenating urban brownfields is the goal." Green Anchors website, undated.


Watchdog Group Threatens To Sue Vigor Industrial. "The Northwest Environmental Defense Center this week warned Vigor Industrial that it will sue if the Portland shipyard doesn't curb its stormwater discharges of zinc and copper. ... Vigor's vice president, Alan Sprott, said the company is working with state officials to change its operation." OPB EarthFix, July 20


Somethings fishy in the harbor-PCBs in river sediment of Superfund site pose health risk for humans. "Direct contact with Willamette River water won't hurt you. But PCBs accumulate up the food chain, moving from river sediment to insects to small fish to bigger fish, becoming more concentrated with every step. According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, the amount of PCBs in the tissue of fish at the top of the food chain can be 3.5 million times greater than what is measured in the surrounding water." Portland Tribune, July 25

west hayden island--houckWest Hayden Island Open House held on July 17th. "Overflow Crowd at Open House talks to Mayor Sam Adams." Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, West Hayden Island News Update, undated  


The West Hayden Island problem: sudden surprises. OregonLive.com, July 15


West Hayden Island: A balanced approach to economic development. OregonLive.com, July 16


The Lost Island. "The current proposal calls for dropping a terminal on the 300 acres of West Hayden Island closest to the big box stores of Jantzen Beach. In return, the Port is supposed to open the 500 remaining acres to the public and spend millions to offset, elsewhere along the Columbia River, the environmental havoc of that construction. ... Striking that balance won't be easy." The Portland Mercury, July 26 


(Image from photo by Mike Houck on www.theintertwine.org)

Sellwood Bridge Project design approved by Multnomah County commissioners. "With the approval, construction can begin late this summer on the bridge's replacement, which will be a steel deck arch bridge." DJCOregon.com, July 19


Contamination At Sellwood Bridge Worse Than Expected. "Part of [a new increased cost] estimate has to do with new discoveries about contaminants in soil at the West End of the bridge. Engineers ... were not expecting they'd have to get rid of 100,000 tons of contaminated dirt under a half-mile stretch of Highway 43." OPB.org, July 19


Art for new Sellwood Bridge inspired by local geology. "[Landscape architect Mikyoung] Kim zeroed in on the Willamette River, its steep escarpments and local geology for her design. Each of the 20 columns will display a layer, or stratum, of a different color, with blue at the top representing the river, followed by blackened steel for sediments of the larger river basin, weathered copper for basalt and so on." OregonLive.com, July 22


The Darlene Hooley Pedestrian Bridge Opens, Connects Waterfront and City. "A large crowd of excited Portlanders attended Mayor Adams' grand opening celebration of the 700-foot long "Hooley" bridge. The pedestrian and bike bridge reconnects the historic Lair Hill neighborhood to the Willamette River and South Waterfront District, OHSU, and the aerial tram." Mayor Sam Adams blog, July 25


Council adopts Sullivan's Gulch Trail Plan. "The 5-mile long trail will provide a safe route for pedestrians and bicyclists along I-84 from the Willamette River's Eastbank Esplanade to I-205 at Rocky Butte and Gateway Green." Commissioner Nick Fish' blog, July 26 


The Diver-Lieutenant Rich Tyler. "I bumped into a sturgeon once. It kind of freaked me out, because it felt hard and scaly like a dinosaur. At first I thought it was a log. The guy was probably as big as I was. He got out of the way in his own sweet time. It's his bottom of the river, not mine." Portland Monthly, August 2012


Clark County firefighters' boat ready for river rescues. The Columbian, July 22


Clark County adopts new flood insurance rate maps, finishes update of shoreline master program. "The maps identify areas in the county judged to have at least a 1 percent change of flooding. The maps also indicate where mortgage lenders may require property owners to purchase flood insurance and where regulations related to flood plains apply." The Columbian, July 25

UpriverUpriver tidings


Feds, States, Tribes Sign Agreement Pledging Cooperation, Information Sharing On Protecting Lamprey. "Leaders from Bonneville Power Administration, other federal and state agencies, and Northwest tribes have signed an agreement supporting increased cooperation and information sharing to better protect Pacific lLamprey, a troubled Northwest native species." Columbia Basin Bulletin, July 20  


Lamprey harvest is under way at Willamette Falls by tribes of the Columbia River basin. OregonLive.com, July 13


Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 

Bonneville Dam prepares 75th anniversary celebration of Roosevelt dedication (video). OregonLive.com, July 14


Barge owner guilty of polluting Columbia River."The owner of a derelict barge left in the Columbia River near Camas, Wash., has pleaded guilty to two criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act." NWCN.com, July 13

Rivers and fun converge at Clackamette Park. "Imagine for a moment that you are an Oregon City city planner, at the end of the Oregon Trail, tasked to name a lovely park where the mighty Clackamas River flows into the mightier Willamette. Can you think of a better name than Clackamette? Doubtful." StatesmanJournal.com, July 13


Forget food carts, this is a food boat. "Travis Martin's 'Burger Barge' is like a floating food cart on the Willamette River, selling hot dogs, burgers and of course fish bait." KATU.com, July 13

New council to focus on stopping spread of invasive species. "Government and industry leaders from western Canada and the Pacific Northwest this week announced plans to form a regional, bi-national invasive species council. The goal is to keep invasive species out of the Columbia River and other regional waterways." Sustainable Business Oregon, July 20


sTurtles brought back home to Columbia River Gorge-They're plucked from wild as hatchlings, reared in captivity to grow faster, then returned. "There were fewer than 100 western pond turtles in the Columbia River Gorge when a recovery plan launched in the early 1990s. The number is now close to 1,500, wildlife officials say." The Columbian, July 26, 2012   Photo: Jane Chorazy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 

Clean Water Act's Anti-Pollution Goals Prove Elusive. OPB Earthfix, July 18


Clean Water: The Next Act. OPB Earthfix, July 18-19


Fun / Of Note    

River of Hope in the Bronx. "For years one of the most blighted, abused waterways in the country, the southern end of the Bronx River has been slowly coming back and with it the shoreline that meanders through the South Bronx. ... The New York waterfront is changing perhaps more than any other part of the city." [Note: this article includes fascinating links to the Barretto Point Park Floating Pool and the Bronx River Greenway River House.] New York Times, July 19


The "Floating Pool Lady," a seven-lane pool on a barge, has arrived in Barretto Point Park in the Bronx and she'll be staying through the summer. (text and photo from NYC Parks)

Study Finds 'Caffeinated' Waters Off Oregon Coast; Sewer Overflows, Septic Tanks Possible Sources. "A new study finds elevated levels of caffeine at several sites in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Oregon -- though not necessarily where researchers expected. ... The results seem to indicate that wastewater treatment plants are effective at removing caffeine, but that high rainfall and combined sewer overflows flush the contaminants out to sea. The results also suggest that septic tanks, such as those used at the state parks, may be less effective at containing pollution. ... Previous studies have found caffeine in other bodies of water around the world, including the North Sea, the Mediterranean, Puget Sound, Boston Harbor, and Sarasota Bay, Fla." Columbia Basin Bulletin, July 20


Aerial View of Portland Metro Area (photo essay). [This photo essay consists of over 40 aerial snapshots taken in a small helicopter, and includes some pretty arresting views of the Columbia and Willamette.] OregonLive.com, July 20.   


Live Action BearCam! Alaska's Brooks River in Katmai National Park. "Every year over a hundred Brown Bears descend on a mile long stretch of Brooks River to feast on the largest Sockeye Salmon run in the world." Explore.org 

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.