Healthy waterways with abundant fish and wildlife reflect the conservation values of the Portland metropolitan region. The Institute collaborates with utilities, park providers, watershed councils and others to re-imagine our connected networks of grey and green infrastructure. We seek to shift management to support cost-effective sustainable stormwater mitigation, recovery of endangered fish populations, and promotion of biodiversity.
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge: Institute staff helped establish and continue to be active the management of the 160-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. This effort has been ongoing since the early 1970s. UGI’s Mike Houck helped write the 1988 Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge Management Plan that initiated a series of restoration efforts, including the recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-City of Portland Habitat Enhancement Project. Oaks Bottom was not always so well-loved, but is now recognized as the City’s first official urban wildlife refuge. Read more about the history of this grassroots effort.
Ross Island and Holgate Channel: UGI has a goal of bringing all of Ross Island into public ownership and restoring its ecological integrity. Institute staffer Mike Houck has been engaged with Ross Island conservation since the late 1970s. We work collaboratively with Audubon Society of Portland, Willamette Riverkeeper and others to highlight opportunities and challenges of conserving Ross Island. This partnership enabled the creation of Envisioning Ross Island and helped secure transfer of 45 acres into public ownership. The Ross Island archipelago (Ross, Hardtack, East and Toe islands) combined with the Holgate Channel and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge would total more than 350 acres of invaluable natural areas in the heart of downtown Portland.
Willamette River Greenway: The Institute is working to expand the Willamette Greenway in the face of private development pressures. Through the City of Portland’s Central City 2035 and South Reach Plan updates, UGI continues to advocate for expanded development setbacks and no-wake zones, more space for riparian restoration, and improved trail connectivity. Over the long-term, we will support the North Reach plan update and npGREENWAY vision. Beyond Portland, we work on enhanced greenway connectivity south to Willamette Falls. To the north, we support continued efforts to update and strengthen Clark County shoreline master programs.
Field-truthing stream maps and surveying fish passage barriers: Working with various partners, UGI staffer Ted Labbe conducts field surveys to upgrade and improve regulatory stream maps and document and prioritize fish passage barriers. We have completed this work on Salmon Creek (Clark County), Johnson and Beaver Creeks (Multnomah County), Molalla River/Milk Creek, and other Willamette River tributaries. UGI has a continuing interest in this work, and is interested in exploring partnerships with watershed councils, agencies, and others.