The Institute works with utilities and park providers to promote innovative programs that combine grey and green infrastructure approaches to managing urban stormwater. We work with agencies to evolve their missions from reliance on hard, engineered solutions to a more holistic to improving ecological health of the region’s watersheds and improving ecological health of the region’s watersheds, including incorporating recovery of endangered fish and promotion of biodiversity.

Willamette River: Over the years we have worked on many urban watersheds including the lower Willamette River.

Mike Houck commissioned ArtFX to paint a nearly 50,000 square foot wetland mural on the Portland Memorial Mausoleum overlooking Oaks Bottom.
Mike Houck commissioned ArtFX to paint a nearly 50,000 square foot wetland mural on the Portland Memorial Mausoleum overlooking Oaks Bottom.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge: Institute staff have been engaged in efforts to establish and manage 160-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge since the early 1970s. We helped write the 1988 Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge Management Plan which, with Portland City Council adoption, has led to significant restoration efforts and Oaks Bottom being recognized at the city’s first official urban wildlife refuge. To read about the history of this grassroot effort, click Read more>

Mike Houck, Travis Williams and Bob Sallinger listening to Bob Pamplin donate part of Ross Island to the City of Portland, October 31, 2007.
Mike Houck, Travis Williams and Bob Sallinger listening to Bob Pamplin donate part of Ross Island to the City of Portland, October 31, 2007.

Ross Island and Holgate Channel: Public ownership of Ross Island has been a goal for many years. Institute staff involvement dates back to the late 1970s and has continued with collaborative efforts with Audubon Society of Portland, and Willamette Riverkeeper. This partnership led to the creation of a Envisioning Oaks Bottom vision and helped secure 45 acres of Ross Island in public ownership. The Ross Island archipelago (Ross, Hardtack, East and Toe islands) when combined with Holgate Channel of the Willamette and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge would total more than 350 acres of invaluable fish and wildlife habitat in the heart of downtown Portland. Read more >

Willamette River Greenway: The Institute has worked for years to expand the Willamette Greenway. At South Waterfront we were party to expanding the Greenway setback from twenty-five to one-hundred feet which has allowed for riparian habitat enhancement on the banks and wider recreational access as well. We are working to expand the Greenway throughout the river’s “south reach” from South Waterfront to the Sellwood Bridge and beyond. Read more >

Click here to read more about fish passage efforts

Field-truthing stream maps and surveying fish passage barriers: Working with various partners, Ted Labbe has conducted field surveys to upgrade and improve regulatory stream maps and document and prioritize fish passage barriers across the region. 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 in Clackamas County. UGI has a continuing interest in this work, and is interested in exploring additional partnerships with watershed councils, agencies, and others.