20 Years - 20 Stories

20 Years - 20 Stories: Topic Areas

This is our 20th anniversary year and we are working to document efforts large and small that have improved the Columbia Slough watershed and raise public awareness of the waterway and region. There are a thousand stories to tell about the last 20 years; we are choosing 20 areas to focus on.  See the list of topic list below and join us November 17th as we kick-off documenting the past 20 years of positive impacts in the Columbia Slough watershed.  Even if you have just one story to tell about one topic on this list, we’d love to have you there. 
Can’t make it? Email your reflections to: info@columbiaslough.org

  • Paddling and Recreation Access
  • Revegetation
  • Fish Restoration
  • Land Acquisition
  • Culverts & Bridges
  • Combined Sewer Overflows Work
  • Youth Education
  • Adult Education
  • Trails Network
  • Flood Protection
  • Airport Futures Project
  • Wildlife
  • Water Quality
  • Regatta
  • Explorando
  • Groundwater Protection Program
  • Public Awareness
  • Stormwater Improvements
  • Council Partnerships
  • Wetland Mitigation

There will also be an opportunity to share about topics not listed above.


Slough Celebration Frequently Asked Questions

Event Rescheduled for Tuesday, February 11th 5:30-8:30 PM.

This page is designed to answer questions about attending Slough Celebration on February 11th. Feel free to contact Penny Beckwith at (503) 281-1132 if you need additional assistance.

Slough Celebration
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Melody Ballroom
615 Southeast Alder Street
Portland, OR 97214

What should I wear and/or bring?
Dress for the Slough Celebration is business casual to cocktail. Cash, checks, and credit cards will be accepted for the purchase of drinks, Dining & Entertainment raffle tickets, silent auction items, and donations to the Council.

You don’t need a paper ticket. You and your guests can check in by name at the registration table.

How do I get there?
The Melody Ballroom is located at 615 SE Alder St, just a few blocks south of SE Stark St and one block east of SE Grand Ave. Buses #6 and 15 make stops near the Melody Ballroom. Parking is in designated lots and on-street, including:

Lot 1: Melody Ballroom lot on SE 7th & Washington (after 5 pm)
Lot 2: US Bank lot on the SW corner of SE   6th & Alder (after 6 pm)
Lot 3: US Bank lot located on the corner of Grand & Washington (after 6 pm)
Lot 4: Star Park on SE 9th and SE Morrison - $2 for 12 hours (all day) 503.223.4128
Lot 5: McCloud Parking behind Bank of America SE 6th and SE Morrison - $3 for evening (after 5 pm) 503.234.4452 *Must be prearranged.

When should I arrive?
The Slough Celebration starts at 5:30 PM (registration opens at 5:15 PM) with a photo station, socializing and our silent auction. This year’s silent auction packages include: a week long beach getaway, down jackets from Patagonia, a hot springs retreat and much, much more! For only $20 you can take a chance at the Dining & Entertainment raffle for a chance to win a plethora of gift certificates to local venues.

What’s on the menu?

Beer from Hopworks Urban Brewery and donated wine from Casa Bruno will be for sale for $5/pint or glass.

Dinner will be served family style, and our menu includes:
•      Northwest Salad- pear and balsamic, blue cheese and toasted hazelnuts on the side (vn, gf)
•      Seasonal Roasted Vegetable Medley (vn, gf)
•      Cilantro Chile Rice (vn, gf)
•      Poblano Chicken with Green Chile Cream Sauce*
•      Vegetable En Croute (v)*
•      Assorted Platter of Chocolate Brownies, Truffles, Cookies, and Seasonal Fruit
v-vegetarian, vn-vegan, gf-gluten free, df-dairy free
*Dairy free and gluten free versions of these dishes may be available (please send an email ahead of time so we have an accurate count) penny.beckwith@columbiaslough.org

What entertainment will I enjoy?
Awards will be presented (don’t worry, it’s not your typical awards night), along with the debut of five new videos from SloughTube Season 4!

What if there is ice or snow?
If there is any risk of ice or snow, check the Council homepage or call 503-281-1132.

Event Contact:

Penny Beckwith
Outreach Director
Columbia Slough Watershed Council



Internship Opportunities

The Council has several internships available throughout the year.  Have an idea for an internship? We can work with you to design an internship around your talents.  Please email us at info@columbiaslough.org with your proposal.

Now Recruiting…

Development Intern
Assist us in putting together our Gala fundraiser event - the annual Slough Celebration! We’re searching for an intern who is a great communicator, one who is adept at searching out, securing and managing monetary and in-kind donations for our organization and our silent auction. For 10-20 hours/week, assist with event promotion, branding and event decor. This is a great opportunity for someone looking for experience in event planning/management and non-profit fundraising. Read the full position description here.


Resource Description
Development Intern Position Description Learn more about the Development Intern position

Projects and Programs 2003-2013

Ten years ago the Council adopted its Action Plan which identified more than one hundred watershed projects to establish healthy habitats and clean water.

The Projects and Programs 2003-2013 report captures a review of all the original Action Plan projects and includes an analysis of the status of projects old and new. New projects are numbered and categorized. While this report is a snapshot in time, it also adds the element of interactive web-based maps. Project locations and information can be viewed online using Google Maps.

This report could not have been completed without the generous in-kind efforts of the City of Portland’s Environmental Services staff.

Click here to view the Projects and Programs 2003-2013 document.

Having trouble viewing the document?  Try this Google Doc version.

Please contact Jane Van Dyke for more information at: (503) 281-1132 or jane.vandyke@columbiaslough.org.

Resource Description
Projects and Programs 2003-2013 Report This report captures projects and programs in the watershed 2003-2013 in the areas of: Restoration and Enhancement, Water Quality and Quantity, Resource Collection, Outreach and Education, Monitoring, and Recreation. PDF version. Full color; maps included
Projects and Programs 2003-2013 Online Map Viewing Tool View the projects captured in Projects and Programs 2003-2013 online using Google maps
Action Plan Summary (2003) Highlights priority projects and gives and overview of the Action Plan (2003)

Watershed Facts

Columbia Slough Watershed Facts:

• 32,700 acres
• Contains Smith and Bybee Wetlands, the largest urban wetland in the United States
• Lower slough is a refuge for endangered salmon
• 175 bird species
• 26 fish species
• 6 lakes, 3 ponds, 50 total miles of waterways
• 30 miles of flood control levees
• 170,000 residents
• 2 universities, one community college
• Wildlife corridors
• Portland International Airport and Troutdale Airport
• Portland Marine Terminals
• 4,200 businesses
• Columbia South Shore Well Field-part of the City of Portland and City of Gresham’s drinking water
• Critical transportation corridors-I-5, I-205, I-83, and Highway 30
• 250,000 railroad cars pass through
• Water quality listed under 303(d)
• Six golf courses
• 40 mile Loop Trail-trail system over 150 miles
• Canoe and kayak launches
• 60% impervious surfaces



Resource Description
Groundwater Protection Program Brochure City of Portland; Portland Water Bureau Groundwater Protection Program Information

History of the Watershed

The Columbia Slough is a wonderful place.  The Slough waterways were historically utilized by native peoples for seasonal fishing and hunting and safe canoe passage. In 1805, Lewis and Clark expedition members complained they could not sleep due to the noise created by massive numbers of geese and swans, “their noise horid.” The Hudson’s Bay Company began trapping otter and beaver in 1820.  By the 1850s farming had replaced trapping as the main economic activity.

During the early 1920s, levee construction began to prevent the Columbia River’s annual spring floods.  As the area developed, what was once a wildlife-rich mosaic of sloughs, wetlands and lakes was transformed into a highly managed system of channels, agricultural lands, industrial development, and residences.

Today, this urban watershed provides recreation, greenspace, drainage, and habitat.  It is home to 4,200 businesses, 170,000 people, a marine terminal and two airports.  The watershed collects stormwater runoff, rainwater, and groundwater.  Its streams, sloughs, wetlands, grasslands and woodlands provide wildlife corridors and migratory routes for over 175 species of birds. Mink, river otter, beaver, coyote and sensitive species like Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Willow Flycatcher, and Western Pond and Painted turtles use slough habitats. Twenty eight fish species call the Columbia Slough home.

2013 Whitaker Ponds Award

Congratulations to the 2013 Whitaker Ponds Award Winner

We are pleased to recognize Dave McFarland with our Whitaker Ponds Award as part of our 2013 Columbia Slough Watershed Council Awards.

Whitaker Ponds Nature Park
began in 1995 and the original property was operated as a junk yard; there were piles of scrap metal, old concrete, old cars, and discarded tires.  Today the area is an important natural area in NE Portland.  Dave created a film that shows the beautiful dichotomy of nature amidst industry. The film is inspirational and highlights the unique nature of Whitaker Ponds.

Dave McFarland Cropped

David McFarland

  Creator of Whitaker Ponds: Forest Among the Factories.  View Forest Among the Factories here.


2013 Achievement Award Winners

Congratulations to the Slough Celebration Achievement Award Recipients

Award recipients are honored at our annual Slough Celebration event and we create a humorous video that gives a glimpse of the award winner’s achievements and why they received the honor.  This year’s Achievement Award recipients are:

Jeremy AAsum Cropped

Jeremy AAsum

Graphic Designer: Developed a functional, modern and user-friendly website that greatly increased the impact of the Council’s outreach efforts. View Jeremy’s award video skit here.


Recology Logo


Stormwater Treatment Facility: Developed innovative ways to include their employees, a neighboring business and the greater community in their stormwater management. View Recology’s award video skit here.

2013 Leadership Award Winners

Congratulations to the Slough Celebration Leadership Award Recipients

Award recipients are honored at our annual Slough Celebration event and we create a humorous video that gives a glimpse of the award winner’s achievements and why they received the honor.  This year’s Leadership Award recipients are:

Jeff Locke Cropped

Jeff Locke

Friends of Smith & Bybee Lakes: Active steward of Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area and dedicated proponent of recreation opportunities in the Watershed. View Jeff’s award video skit here.


Corky Collier Cropped

Corky Collier

  Columbia Corridor Association: Long-time Council member and advocate for business practices and programs that have had a positive impact on the Watershed. View Corky’s award video skit here.

Slough Celebration Awards (Call for Nominations)

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council works to “foster action to protect, enhance, restore, and revitalize the Columbia Slough and its watershed.” The Council achieves its mission through strong partnerships and collaborative action.  Each year the most outstanding accomplishments are recognized at the Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s Annual Slough Celebration. The Celebration recognizes individuals, groups, organizations and projects that have made extraordinary contributions to protect, enhance, restore, and revitalize the Columbia Slough and its watershed. 

The Council is pleased to announce a call for nominations for both Leadership and Achievement Awards. Potential nominations might include the following: watershed restoration projects, education and/or outreach projects, grassroots and/or neighborhood association watershed projects, implementation of watershed-wise best management practices, individuals with a strong commitment to the watershed and other volunteer activities.

Award Categories

(see nomination form below for specific criteria)
Leadership: Extraordinary and long-term individual commitments to the watershed
Achievement: Extraordinary projects or project-related efforts.

Nominations can be made by anyone and must be submitted by Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 4 pm.

Nominator Responsibilities

If your nominee is selected for an award, you are responsible for an up to two-minute formal presentation of the nominee’s accomplishments at the Slough Celebration on Friday, February 6, 2015.  You may make this presentation yourself or secure another person to give the presentation. You will have a maximum of two minutes for this presentation and the nominee will have one minute to accept the award, before we move on to the next award winner.  If you wish, you can also work with Council staff and volunteers on the informal-fun video presentation. View the video skits from last year’s event here. If your nominee is selected for an award you will be contacted by the Council about the specifics of the presentation.

Thank you to all of you who joined us for Slough Celebration on February 11th, 2014.
View photos from the event here and on Facebook.

For full details and the 2014 nomination form see below:

Resource Description
2014 Columbia Slough Watershed Council Award Nomination Form Nomination Form May also be submitted by email

Contact Us

Columbia Slough Watershed Council

7040 NE 47th Ave
Portland, OR 97218

Phone: (503) 281-1132 Phone service on our office line is currently disrupted. You may still leave a message by calling our general number: (503) 281-1132, however, the best way to get a hold of us is to email:info@columbiaslough.org

Office Hours: (Typically)
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Member Area

Member access only.  For help please contact: info@columbiaslough.org

Mission Statement

To foster action to protect, enhance, restore, and revitalize the Slough and its watershed.


The Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s Stewardship program is dedicated to improving watershed health by combining local residents, natural areas, and restoration activities in locations throughout the watershed.  Volunteer activities include native plantings, weed pulls, and litter cleanups in and along waterways.

Potential stewards can participate in upcoming Stewardship Saturdays which take place at least once per month.  Stewardship Saturdays typically occur from 9am to noon, and tools and refreshments are provided.  Please dress accordingly for the type of activity and the weather.  To view upcoming Stewardship Saturday activities, dates, and descriptions please click here to see our calendar of events.

Volunteers can also work with the our staff to plan their own stewardship activity.
Please contact us at info@columbiaslough.org or by phone (503) 281-1132.

Walking & Biking

Whether you enjoy exercise by foot or on a bike, you have a slough of options with the region’s evolving 40-mile loop (150-mile system) of walking and bicycle paths that connects trails through the Columbia Slough.

An Evolving Trail System

This interconnected system will eventually include a walking path along the entire Slough, and bicycle-pedestrian trails along roadways stretching from Kelly Point Park east to Sandy River Gorge and south to the Springwater Corridor.

Portland Office of Transportation Biking Information
Neighborhood biking/walking maps

Recent Trail Updates

The Columbia Slough trail between North Denver and Vancouver Avenues is now open!  This connects part of the 40 mile loop trail system along the Columbia Slough.  Learn more here.

40-Mile Loop Trail Map

The 40-Mile Loop Trail is a century long effort to build a comprehensive trail system through and around Portland.

The planned loop trail has lengthened to more than 140 miles to include all of Multnomah County and to connect more than 30 parks. The trail connects parks and locations along the Slough and along the Columbia, Sandy, and Willamette Rivers and Johnson Creek in an almost continuous loop.

Download Preview
40-Mile Loop Trail Map

Council Members

The Council’s board members meet once a month to govern the Council and vote on key decisions. To learn more about board member roles, check out the description and application to be a board member. Space is currently available for new board members.

Resource Description
Council Board Member Job Description Board Member Position Description
Council Member Application Board Member Application


“Slough News” is the newsletter of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. Throughout the year, we provide you with articles about what is happening in your watershed.


Thank you for your interest in working at Columbia Slough Watershed Council.  There are currently no employment positions open.  Visit our Get Involved page to learn about volunteer and internship opportunities.

Agendas & Minutes

The Council Meeting Agendas are available for community members to read what is being planned and discussed. If you would like to see past agendas and minutes, please contact: info@columbiaslough.org or (503) 281-1132

Resource Description
October 27th, 2014 Agenda October Meeting Agenda
September 29th, 2014 Agenda September Meeting Agenda
August, 25, 2014 Agenda August Meeting Agenda
July 28th, 2014 Agenda July Meeting Agenda
June 30th, 2014 Agenda June Meeting Agenda
May 19th, 2014 Agenda May Meeting Agenda
April 28, 2014 Agenda April Meeting Agenda
March 31, 2014 Agenda March Meeting Agenda
February 24, 2014 Agenda February Meeting Agenda
January 27, 2014 Minutes January Meeting Minutes
January 27, 2014 Agenda January Meeting Agenda
November/December, 2013 Agenda Holiday Meeting Agenda
October 28, 2013 Agenda October Meeting Agenda
September 30, 2013 Agenda September Meeting Agenda
August 26th, 2013 Agenda (Watershed Tour Meeting) August Meeting Agenda
July 22nd, 2013 Agenda (Watershed Tour Meeting) July Meeting Agenda
June 24th, 2013 Agenda June Meeting Agenda
May 20th, 2013 Minutes May Meeting Minutes


Now is the time to support the Columbia Slough Watershed Council!  Put your money to work supporting a healthy future for people, plants, and wildlife.

As a non-profit organization, we know our greatest asset is YOU: your enthusiasm, your volunteer time, your knowledge, and your financial support. Your contribution this year will help the Council continue programs and activities in our watershed for years to come. Donations to the Council are tax-deductible as provided by law: our IRS Tax Identification number is 03-0456181.

Yes! I want to support the Council!

You may also mail a check directly to:
Columbia Slough Watershed Council
7040 NE 47th Ave
Portland, OR 97218


Register Your Fred Meyer Rewards Card

  (Another easy way to support the slough!)

Are you a Fred Meyer customer? Support the Slough just by getting groceries! Fred Meyer is donating $2.5 million each year - up to $625,000 each quarter to community organizations - make this support go to work for your watershed! All you have to do is link your Rewards Card and use it when you shop at Fred Meyer. By registering your card you are helping decide what these funds support.

To register your card visit: www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards  Register and then add Columbia Slough Watershed Council as your Community Rewards organization. Search for organization number: 83957

Questions?  Give us a call at: (503) 281-1132 or email info@columbiaslough.org.

Canoeing & Kayaking

Almost two centuries after the Lewis and Clark expedition, it is still easy to imagine you are on your own “corps of discovery,” traveling by canoe or kayak, even in the midst of the industrial landscape.

The narrow, tree-lined Upper Slough evokes an air of mystery as you glide silently beneath a mixed alder, cottonwood, red-osier dogwood and willow canopy. The brushy banks are especially attractive to Wood Duck, Black-crowned Night Heron and the secretive Green Heron.

Paddling the Slough

While it is easily navigable by canoe, culverts and other barriers must be negotiated if you plan to paddle the entire Upper Slough. East of the 142rd Avenue levee, canoeing is best on the south “arm” of the Slough. Downstream the preferred route is along the north “arm.” Two floating docks off Airport Way provide the easiest access to the Upper Slough.

The Lower Slough is a wider, obstacle-free waterway with expansive vistas and open water, lined with black cottonwoods and ash - ideal perching and nesting habitat for Osprey, Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron and welcome shade on a hot summer paddle. Daily tides mean a will timed trip allows for paddling with the current; the alternative is a muddy take-out and paddling against a stiff current at ebb tide. Kelley Point Park, St. Johns Landfill and Smith and Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area provide easily accessible launch sites. A new launch is planned near Northeast Denver Avenue.

Resource Description
Paddler's Access Guide Paddle guide; includes launch location information.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (Invasive Species Prevention Program) Permits required for all boats over 10 ft
NOAA Tide Predictions Website NOAA Tide Predictions
Paddlers Safety Checklist Paddlers Safety Checklist (American Canoe Association)
Alder Creek Kayak/Canoe/Raft/SUP Rental Vendor
Next Adventure Paddle Sports Kayak Rental Vendor
Portland Kayak Company Kayak Rental Vendor

Field Programs

Field Programs

Field Programs are designed for students to study the ecosystem of a site within the Columbia Slough Watershed and its nearby habitats. These trips are intended as a field component for students who have completed a classroom presentation.

What to Expect

Field activities may include wildlife observation, water quality monitoring, macroinvertebrate sampling, identifying native and non-native plants, and habitat studies. Field programs generally last between 1.5 - 2 hours and can include a service project or deeper scientific investigation.

Many field trips take place at Whitaker Ponds Nature Park, which has an outdoor classroom, pond access and limited indoor study areas. Other sites within the watershed include Salish Ponds Wetlands in Fairview, the Columbia Blvd. Wastewater Treatment Plant grounds, the Children’s Arboretum, and Kelly Point Park.

Groups should come on field experiences dressed appropriately for the weather and with enough adult chaperones to meet a 1:8 adult to student ratio.

Service Projects and Community Action Projects

These may be arranged based on the specific needs and interests of your student group. The majority of students participate in habitat restoration projects including: invasive plant removal, mulching and trail maintenance, and planting native herbs and shrubs.

Cost and Transportation

The Slough School programs are offered free of charge to teachers and students within the Columbia Slough Watershed on a case by case basis. Transportation to field sites is generally the responsibility of the school or group, although some transportation arrangements can be provided by the Slough School.

The Whitaker Ponds Nature Park is accessible by Tri-met bus #75 and is located at 7040 NE 47th Ave in Portland.

Academic Benchmarks Addressed

Slough School activities can be adapted to meet specific learning objectives identified by teachers for each student group.

Activities address academic content standards identified by the Oregon Department of Education, such as:

Life Science:

“Explain the behavior and interdependence of organisms in their natural environment”, “Describe the characteristics, structure and function of organisms”


“Explain how humans and the physical environment impact and influence each other”

Scientific Inquiry:

“Design and conduct investigations to answer questions and verify hypotheses”, “Analyze, data collected from an investigation, draw conclusions and explain results.”

If you are interested in creating a plan of study with the Slough School, contact:

Lianne Bailey, Education Coordinator
Phone: (503) 281-1132
email: lianne.bailey@columbiaslough.org

Classroom Presentations

Class Topics

Slough School provides classroom presentations tailored to fit the learning objectives of a specific group or classroom. Programs can be combined to create a unit of interest.

Animal Adaptations- target grade 3

Discuss how animals have adapted to their specific environment. Identify the adaptations of birds, mammals and fish. Examine pelts, skulls and specimens of local animals.

Aquatic Macroinvertebrates – target grade 4

How do aquatic organisms tell us about water quality. Through specimens and slides, learn about aquatic invertebrates and their adaptations.

Groundwater- target grades 4 & 7

Learn how local geology affects our groundwater system. Using an interactive model, discover how local choices affect groundwater safety.

Habitats of Oregon – target grades 2 & 6

Explore habitats of Oregon and the Columbia Slough watershed through hands-on activities. Students learn characteristics of various habitats and their resident plants and animals.

Riparian Plants- targets grades 3,5 & 6.

Students will identify the differences between native and non-native plants and the impacts of both. Characteristics of riparian plants will be identified, using field guides and plant samples.

Water Insects and Friends- target grade 1

Explore life cycles and anatomy of aquatic insects. Through specimens and slides, learn about water invertebrates and their adaptations.

Water Quality- target grades 5 & 7

Students observe, use units, interpret data and form hypotheses as they measure the temperature, pH, turbidity and dissolved oxygen of water samples taken from a local field site.

What is a Watershed?- target grades 2, 4 & 8

Learn about watersheds and sources of pollution through historical and current maps, activities, a watershed model, and /or a powerpoint on the industrial and environmental history of the slough.

If you are interested in creating a plan of study with the Slough School, contact:

Lianne Bailey, Education Coordinator
Phone: (503) 281-1132
email: lianne.bailey@columbiaslough.org

Slough FAQs

The Columbia Slough is a wonderful place to visit and the home to many amazing living organisms, including humans. But, what is a slough? What is a watershed? Read on to learn the answers to those questions…

Plants & Wildlife

The Columbia Slough is home to vast numbers of plants and animals.  Check out the guides below for information about what you could see around the Columbia Slough.

Resource Description
Aquatic Plants of the Columbia Slough Plants you'll see in and around the Columbia Slough.
Turtles of Portland Guide Native and non-native turtles in the area.
Fish of the Columbia Slough Native and non-native fish in the Columbia Slough.
Birds of the Columbia Slough Common birds of the Columbia Slough area.


The Slough is an amazing combination of passages, lakes, and streams in the heart of the city. In addition, roads, businesses and homes are also located in the watershed of the Slough. This growing list of maps are a resource to help you explore the many treasures and resources of the watershed.

Volunteer Opportunities

Bring your talents to the council! The Council has a number of volunteering opportunities for individuals, groups and families. Apply for one of the positions below or let us help you design a volunteering opportunity that is right for you. Visit our internships section to learn more about our short term project oriented internships.

Now Recruiting…

Videographer Volunteer
Are you a talented, creative leader? Are you interested in film and directing? We’re looking for a videographer volunteer to assist us with our annual awards videos. These comedic shorts honor our award winners and are showed at our annual awards gala on February 6th, 2015. Build your portfolio while working with a local non-profit! Exercise your funny bone while helping with script development and scene blocking. This is a very flexible position - get to know the timeline and our specific project needs by reviewing the full position description.

Office Volunteer
The Slough organization only succeeds because of the work of our volunteers! Help us better serve the community by serving as an office volunteer. You’ll help with essential office tasks that range from challenging to meditative - promote and organize our events, research grants, manage our volunteer database, scan, shred, make copies and more. Very flexible schedule. Approximately 3 hours/week. Learn more about the opportunity here.

office native garden

Volunteer Grounds Keepers

Naturescaping is a great way to beautify a yard while providing wildlife benefits, but these spaces need your help to grow and thrive.  The Council is looking for 1-3 groundskeeper volunteers to help maintain native plantings at the Council office by hand-weeding, mulching, and mowing. Tools and training will be provided.  Time commitment is expected at 1-3 times per month and scheduling is flexible.  Come out and make a difference! Contact Community Involvement Coordinator Hanna Davis at hanna.davis@columbiaslough.org or call (503) 281-1132 for more information.

Education Opportunities

          kids testing

Slough School Educators

NOW RECRUITING for Fall season volunteers
Weekdays, 1x/week
Term: 1 – 3 months

Does making spider web out of spaghetti sound like fun? How about searching for water bugs with a curious 10-year-old? Slough School provides educational programs to school aged children in the Slough watershed. Volunteers will help with field science programming and student restoration projects. Anyone with the ability to support kids and teachers is welcome. Get the full position description at the bottom of this page.

Stewardship Opportunities

Stewardship Saturdays

Get outdoors this weekend and help clean up your neighborhood! Join the council for our monthly Stewardship Saturdays and make a difference within the watershed. Assist with native plantings, invasive species removal, litter clean up and more. Check out the Council’s upcoming events page for this month’s Stewardship Saturdays.

Group Stewardship Volunteering

Looking for a fun service project for your school, community organization or business? The Council hosts volunteers year-round to help with native plantings, invasive weed removal, litter removal, and trail maintenance at sites located in Portland, Fairview and Gresham. Let us know what your interests are and we’ll work with you to organize a volunteer event that suits your needs.
sheetmulching group










Interested in any of the activities above?
Browse the position descriptions below and follow the application instructions. For general inquiries, fill out the interest form located at the bottom of this page and send it to Hanna Davis, Community Involvement Coordinator at hanna.davis@columbiaslough.org or call 503 281-1132.

Resource Description
Volunteer Interest Form Complete and email to Volunteer Coordinator Hanna Davis at hanna.davis@columbiaslough.org.
Office Assistant Volunteer Position Description We recruit office assistants all year round. Join us and help the Council expand their reach!
Slough School volunteer education assistant position description. Familiarize yourself with our Slough School volunteer position. This position recruits in Fall, Winter and Spring.
Videographer Volunteer See if this position's right for you!

Maps & Guides

The Slough is an amazing combination of passages, lakes, and streams in the heart of the city. In addition, roads, businesses and homes are also located in the watershed of the Slough. This growing list of maps are a resource to help you explore the many treasures and resources of the watershed.

Slough News

Here’s what’s new in the Slough!

For more information about Council events and programs please contact our staff at 503-281-1132 or email info@columbiaslough.org.


Slough School


Slough School is the main K-college educational program of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, created to provide hands-on programs for students to learn about the history and ecology of the watershed and its organisms as well as human impacts on the area.

For information on Tadpole Tales, our program for children aged 3-5 with their parents, click here.

Program Structure

Students in grades K-college who live or attend schools within the Columbia Slough Watershed are the principal recipients of Slough School programming. A variety of academic programs are offered, including classroom presentations, field programs, teacher workshops, and service projects at sites along the Slough.

Geographic Area

A watershed is an area of land in which all water drains to a common body of water, such as a river, lake or slough.

The Columbia Slough is a 60-mile long remnant of lakes, wetlands and slow-moving channels in the southern floodplain of the Columbia River.

The Columbia Slough Watershed includes schools and communities in the St. John’s area, North Portland, and parts of Northeast Portland, Parkrose, North Gresham and Fairview. It reaches from Kelly Point Park in the west to Fairview Lake and the headwaters of Fairview Creek in the east; from the Columbia River in the north to the Alameda Ridge in the south. Slough School activities take place at field sites and classrooms across the watershed.


Slough School is based out of the Council offices at the Whitaker Ponds Natural Area, at 7040 NE 47th Ave. in Portland, Oregon.

Interested in volunteering with the program? See volunteer position description and interest form below.  Submit interest form and a resume to: info@columbiaslough.org


If you are interested in creating a plan of study with the Slough School, contact:

Lianne Bailey, Education Coordinator
Phone: (503) 281-1132
email: lianne.bailey@columbiaslough.org

Resource Description
Slough School Education Volunteer Slough School Volunteer Position Description
Volunteer Interest Form Complete and email to info@columbiaslough.org along with your resume


The Columbia Slough Watershed Council is a diverse group of neighbors, property owners, businesses, environmental groups, recreation advocates, and government agencies who work to restore and enhance the 60 miles of waterways known as the Columbia Slough, located in Portland, Gresham, and Fairview. The Columbia Slough Watershed Council is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Click here to view the short video produced by Portland Monthly about our work. (The Council was honored in 2012 with a Light A Fire award)

Resource Description
Annual Report Columbia Slough Watershed Council Annual Report FY 13-14
Letter of Support Process Information on how to request a letter of support from the Council.

Activities & Events

Explore the Slough and learn about local nature! Most programs are free, but we do appreciate a $3-7 donation. 

For more information on our programs please contact us at: (503) 281-1132 or by email: info@columbiaslough.org

Click here for a full list of upcoming events.

Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. Opportunities vary from attending events and workshops, to pulling blackberries and planting native trees, to editing our newsletter, and leading paddling trips.

Here are a few ways to connect with us:

Take a Class:

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council offers free classes and workshops throughout the year including Wetlands 101, Slough 101, and Groundwater 101.

Check our Calendar of Events to see what is coming up.

Come Play with us:

Part of why the Council is so successful is because of our interest in having fun on the Slough. We host paddling trips, tours of the watershed, and hikes.

Check our Calendar of Events to see what is coming up.

Join Our Mailing List:

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council has an email list that keeps you updated on events and happenings through the watershed. We send out emails a few times a month, and you can unsubscribe at any time. To join the list, click here.

If you’d rather stay involved through twice-yearly mailings to your postal address, contact info@columbiaslough.org to sign up for the “snail mail” list.


The Columbia Slough Watershed Council is always looking for volunteers. Please let us know what your interests are.
Learn more here.

Apply for an Internship

We offer a variety of unpaid and stipend-based internships throughout the year.  Learn more about our program and how you can deepen your positive impact as a member of our team.
Learn more here.

Register Your Fred Meyer Card to Support the Slough

Are you a Fred Meyer customer? Support the Slough just by getting groceries! Fred Meyer is donating $2.5 million each year - up to $625,000 each quarter to community organizations - make this support go to work for your watershed! All you have to do is link your Rewards Card and use it when you shop at Fred Meyer. By registering your card you are helping decide what these funds support.

To register your card visit: www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards  Register and then add Columbia Slough Watershed Council as your Community Rewards organization. Search for organization number: 83957

Council Staff

The staff works towards our mission alongside Council members, regional partners, and our tremendous volunteer community.

Year at a Glance

See below for 2014 Columbia Slough Watershed Council events:

For most current information on restoration events (plantings, invasive species removal, clean-ups) please see the upcoming events page of our site.  During planting season, we typically do two volunteer work parties each month (Stewardship Saturdays).


  • Action Plan Brown Bag January 15th, 12:00-1:00 PM
  • Stewardship Saturday January 18th, 10:00 AM-1:00 PM
  • Groundwater 101 January 25th, 9:00 AM-1:30 PM


  • Slough Celebration February 7th, 6:00-9:30 PM
  • Stewardship Saturday February 8th, 10:00 AM-1:00 PM
  • Stewardship Saturday February 22nd, 10:00 AM-1:00 PM
  • Slough Tour: Bird Walk February 25th, 8:00-10:00AM


  • Naturescaping March 9th, 1:00-5:00 PM
  • Slough 101 March 15th, 9:00 AM-1:00 PM
  • Slough Tour: Waterflow March 18th, 4:00-5:00 PM










Resource Description
Annual Events Calendar PDF 2014 Events Calendar

Upcoming Activities

Join us for these upcoming events! For a full calendar of events, click here.  For information on any of the events listed below, contact our staff at: info@columbiaslough.org or (503) 281-1132.

State of the Slough

The Columbia Slough has had a long history of environmental decline. But with the elimination of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) in 2000, watershed wide efforts to revegetate the Slough with native plants, and the increasing awareness of businesses and residents, the Slough is cleaner today than it has been in over 100 years.

For more information about Oregon Department of Environmental Quality projects in the slough, please visit their website.


Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) occur in some areas of the City where the stormwater sewer and sanitary sewer are combined in one pipe - a combined sewer system. When it rains, combined sewer pipes fill up with both stormwater runoff and sewage. Once the pipes fill to capacity, the excess combined sewage overflows into the local river or slough.

The City of Portland used to have 13 CSO outfalls that discharged combined sewage into the Lower Columbia Slough. But in October 2000 the Bureau of Environmental Services completed its “Big Pipe” project and sewage stopped flowing in to the Columbia Slough for the first time in a century. The elimination of CSOs from the Slough has greatly increased the health of the waterway. Local agencies continue to monitor the Slough to measure the improvements of water quality since the elimination of CSOs from the Slough.

Fish Advisory

Columbia Slough Fish may be hazardous to your health. Fish in the Columbia Slough contain PCBs and pesticides. These chemicals may effect human development, reproduction and immune systems. These chemicals may also increase your chance of getting cancer.

People most at risk include: unborn babies, pregnant and nursing mothers, children and people who eat Slough fish often and for many years. Even though the concentrations of PCBs and pesticides in Slough fish are fairly low, they still pose a health risk because these chemicals increase in the body and my cause health problems many years after eating the fish.

PCBs and pesticides accumulate in the fatty parts of fish over the life of the fish. If you do choose to eat Columbia Slough fish, to reduce health risks you should avoid eating the fatty parts or the guts. Bake or broil the fish fillet on a rack so that the fat drips off, and then do not eat the fat drippings.

Water Quality

TMDL is a term from the Clean Water Act that stands for Total Maximum Daily Load. It is an estimate of how much of a particular pollutant a water body can absorb before it becomes a problem. TMDLs are established by Oregon DEQ for every water body that is listed in the Clean Water Act as a water-quality-limited water body .

In 1998 TMDLs were established for the Columbia Slough for pH, dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, bacteria, lead, DDE/DDT, PCBs, dieldrin, and 2,3,7,8-TCDD. DEQ established the temperature for the Willamette Basin (including the Columbia Slough) in 2006.

Our Watershed

The Columbia Slough is a 60-mile long remnant of lakes, wetlands and slow-moving channels in the southern floodplain of the Columbia River. This area was once home to Native Americans. The Lewis and Clark Expedition noted plentiful wildlife particularly geese, brandts, ducks, and otter in the Slough.


In the early 1920’s levees were constructed to prevent seasonal flooding and the waterway was transformed into the channeled and highly managed system now known as the Columbia Slough. With the elimination of yearly floods farming, industrial and residential development flourished.

Today the 40,000 acres of watershed contains 24,000 homes, 4,500 businesses, and is home to 1/10 of all the jobs in Oregon.

Each year more than 13.7 million people and over 275,000 tons of freight come through the watershed. Impacts from 150 years of development have left a legacy of environmental problems in the Slough: contaminated fish and sediment, diminished wildlife habitat, and water pollution from both point and non-point sources. The Columbia Slough Watershed Council was formed to address these issues.

As habitats are modified throughout the Portland metropolitan region and the entire Northwest, the Slough’s importance as a component of our regional system of greenspaces grows. The Slough is one of the largest urban waterways contained wholly within the metropolitan urban growth boundary. This vast ribbon of habitat and openspace can be explored by foot, bicycle or canoe and kayak.

Flanked on the west by the 2,000 acre Smith and Bybee lakes, and on the east by the 102 acre Fairview Lake and the headwaters of Fairview Creek near Grant Butte in Gresham, the 60 mile Slough and its watershed represent an irreplaceable resource, both for the region and for north and northeast Portland, Gresham, Fairview, Troutdale, and Wood Village.

Resource Description
Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Environmental Services is Portland, Oregon's Clean River agency. The agency treats Portland's wastewater, provides stormwater drainage services, and works in Portland watersheds to reduce stormwater pollution, restore native vegetation, and improves the quality of water in our rivers and streams.
The City of Portland Water Bureau The City of Portland Water Bureau operates a well field capable of producing close to 100 million gallons per day. The Columbia South Shore Well Field is the second largest water source in the State of Oregon, with about half the capacity of Portland’s Bull Run source.
Groundwater Protection Program Brochure City of Portland; Portland Water Bureau Groundwater Protection Program Information
Center for Columbia River History Explore the history of the Columbia Slough and its communities. View the images and read the documents that tell about slough's past. Listen to the voices and read the oral histories of those who witnessed a transformation from farm to city, and of those who created diverse social, environmental, and industrial communities.

Get involved with new internships and volunteer positions!

Saturday October 11, 10:45am

We’re happy to announce the opening of our Development Intern and Videographer Volunteer positions. Learn more at our volunteer program by visiting our Volunteer Opportunities page.

Plus, we’re still accepting Office Volunteers for the fall season and Stewardship Saturdays are about to begin. Are you a member of a local organization or business looking for a groups service opportunity? Partner up with us for a Stewardship Saturday activity! Get in touch with our Volunteer Coordinator, Hanna Davis at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

Aquifer Adventure -  a Piratey Sucess!

Monday September 22, 10:06am

On Saturday, September 13th over 500 pirates of all ages joined the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for an event like no other, a pirate-themed groundwater education festival. Now in its twelfth year, Aquifer Adventure teaches families about our underground treasure - not gold, but groundwater, a precious resource that flows below our feet!

The event featured a groundwater obstacle course, water conservation activities, information on green household cleaners, edible aquifers made from ice cream, canoe rides on the Columbia Slough and more. Attendees also had the chance to explore a drinking water well site and learn how a real aquifer works from Portland Water Bureau experts.

What makes groundwater so important?  Groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well Field is a secondary source of drinking water for Portland and is a critical component of the region’s drinking water system. Groundwater is used to help meet higher summer water demands and to provide water during emergencies or when Portland’s primary drinking water source, the Bull Run watershed, is not available. Having a back-up water supply source also helps the City avoid having to build and operate an expensive water filtration plant for the Bull Run source.

Aquifer Adventure is a part of the outreach efforts of the Portland Water Bureau’s Groundwater Protection Program. The Cities of Portland, Gresham and Fairview have implemented this program to protect the Columbia South Shore Well Field – a drinking water source for over 900,000 Oregonians. One of the main goals of the groundwater protection program is to educate people and businesses about how to prevent pollutants and chemical spills from seeping into the ground where they could impact our drinking water. The cooperation of everyone living and working in the protection area is crucial to keeping our drinking water safe. 

Over the past twelve years, over 4,000 attendees have learned about the importance of groundwater through this free event. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s exciting to see connections even a three year old can make about where their water comes from. And of course, it’s fun to dress up like a pirate. There’s nothing like putting on an eye patch and bandana to get you excited about groundwater!

New Volunteer positions now open!

Tuesday September 16, 4:35pm

We’re now accepting volunteers for the fall season of Slough School - help connect kids to the outdoors and provide support as these students get to know what it’s like to be a real field scientist! Take a look at the complete position description and see if Slough School is the right volunteer opportunity for you!

Or, join us indoors as part of our office team. We’re now accepting office assistant volunteers to help manage the day-to-day workings of the office. We couldn’t run smoothly without this team. Join today! View the full position description and application instructions to learn more.

Connecting the Community to the Watershed

Monday June 02, 3:24pm

Learn about our work in the Columbia Slough Watershed.
Pro bono video production by Jeff Ball.

Register Your Fred Meyer Card to support the slough!

Monday March 03, 5:50pm

Are you a Fred Meyer customer? Support the Slough just by getting groceries! Fred Meyer is donating $2.5 million each year - up to $625,000 each quarter to community organizations - make this support go to work for your watershed! All you have to do is link your Rewards Card and use it when you shop at Fred Meyer. By registering your card you are helping decide what these funds support.

To register your card visit: www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards  Register and then add Columbia Slough Watershed Council as your Community Rewards organization. Search for organization number: 83957

Questions?  Give us a call at: (503) 281-1132 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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