Preferred language: English

Columbia Slough Watershed Council

Northeast Ainsworth Habitat Corridor

Northeast Ainsworth Habitat Corridor

Join us and our partners as we come together to install a native habitat corridor on Northeast Ainsworth Street. This pilot project seeks to improve and beautify the right-of-way along Northeast Ainsworth Street between Alberta Park and Fernhill Park.

We’ll be planting native shrubs, rushes, and grasses in the medians on Northeast Ainsworth Street to create habitat for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife in our watershed. This project is funded by the City of Portland’s Neighborhood to River program.

Help us make this project a reality! Contact our Volunteer Coordinator at or call 503-281-1132.

Project partners

Project partner logos - Wisdom of the Elders, Audubon Society of Portland, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Bureau of Transportation

Buffalo Slough Business Stewardship

Fostering stewardship with businesses in the watershed

Much of the land in the Columbia Slough Watershed is an industrial zone, which creates significant challenges when trying to improve water quality and habitat. By partnering with businesses to help care for natural area buffers near their properties along the slough, we can ensure these areas are not neglected and prevent degradation over time.

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council partners with Pacific Power and their employees to restore a natural area along the Buffalo Slough near one of their operations facilities. Volunteer stewards like these employees are important to maintain these sites in the watershed. It is also a great opportunity for local businesses to give back through regular service days or build teamwork through activities with their employees.

Thanks to initial seed funding from East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District and maintenance funds from the Port of Portland, the Council continues to expand its industrial stewardship portfolio to capitalize on restoration on private lands. Reach out to our volunteer coordinator at for more details on how you can help steward the Columbia Slough!
Baseline photo of siteYear one photo of siteYear two photo of siteYear three photo of site

Wilkes Creek Natural Area

Restoring an important connection to the Columbia Slough

People planting plants alog a creek Wilkes Creek is one of the few natural surface creeks that provide cold, clear water into the Columbia Slough. It runs through a nearly 2-acre natural area that is part of the Riverview Village Homeowners Association. This site is also an important biological corridor that connects the Columbia Slough to Wilkes Creek Headwaters, a 21-acre natural area home to the native Stumptown Scud and managed by Portland Parks & Recreation.

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council started working at this site in 2010 in partnership with SOLVE. Most recently, the Council made this site a habitat restoration priority, working with volunteer groups including:
A restoration work site that has had plants added

  • Apex Co
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Boy Scout Troop 351
  • Outside In
  • Urban Nature Partners

The Council coordinates and partners with Portland Parks & Recreation for an annual Earth Day Stewardship event at WIlkes Creek Headwaters and Wilkes Creek Natural Area.


Cully Rain Gardens

Catching rain water to improve water quality

Rain gardenRain gardens help improve water quality in our waterways by catching stormwater to drain slowly through the garden instead of sweeping debris over impervious surfaces like concrete directly into streams. This program, created by Nestor Campos of Verde, supports rain garden installations on low-income residential properties in the Cully Neighborhood of Northeast Portland.

The Cully Rain Garden program is a partnership between Verde, Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Multnomah Youth Cooperative, and Habitat for Humanity Portland Metro/East:

People planning a rain garden on a computer

  • Verde provides educational workshops with interested homeowners on rain garden design and theory, plant selection, and provides technical expertise on the project.
  • Habitat for Humanity identifies eligible homeowners and completes initial outreach.
  • Columbia Slough Watershed Council supports the project through logistics, administration, and project coordination, along with field support during construction.
  • Multnomah Youth Cooperative (MYC) connects the program to students interested in learning about environmental workforce skills, training, and construction trades. The students also help maintain the rain gardens in the first year by removing weeds, replacing native plants that died, and adding mulch and rock to reduce erosion and weeds.

Posed picture next to rain gardenIn 2017-18, the Council and its partners installed six rain gardens with funding from the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, Community Watershed Stewardship Program and a 319 water quality grant through the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

In 2018-19, the partners plan to install nine rain gardens in the Cully community through funding secured by Verde.

Video Gallery

Learn more about the amazing work we are doing here at the Columbia Slough Watershed Council by subscribing to our YouTube channel, or viewing our most recent videos below!

2019 Slough Celebration Award Winners

McKinstry Company - Leadership Award

Video Produced By: David Biggs

Linda Robinson - Achievement Award

Video Produced By: David Biggs

David Biggs - Achievement Award

Video Produced By: Bernardo Pantoja

2018-19 Events & Outreach Program

Video Produced By: David Biggs

2017-18 Stewardship Program



Resource Description
CSWC YouTube Channel
Check out our YouTube channel!

Better Beaver Behavior

Conserving shady areas to help aquatic life

Two men put a beaver cage around a tree. People are often surprised to hear about “beaver caging” in our Better Beaver Behavior program. Rest assured, we don’t trap beavers in cages! Rather, we put cages around trees along our waterways to protect them from beavers who love to chew on trees.

As an urban and industrial watershed, the Columbia Slough has a limited tree canopy and thin natural areas that border the Slough’s channels. This lack of trees means less shade to cool water temperatures. The aquatic plants and animals in the Slough depend on shady cool water to thrive in the ecosystem.

Since the number of trees is limited, every tree along the Columbia Slough is important to conserve our shady areas and keep water cool. However, we also want to ensure that beavers have a chance to live in the watershed. We selectively cage trees along the Slough, leaving some trees for beavers to cut their teeth on.

Working with partners to protect our trees

A fell tree that has been chewed by a beaverBeaver caging is one of our most popular ways for people to help care for the watershed!

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council received funding from the Port of Portland to visit natural area sites and private property owners who experience a high level of damage to their trees. We partner with the Multnomah Youth Cooperative (MYC), a workforce development training program through the Reynolds Learning Academy, to complete some of the caging. We also work with volunteers and businesses to cage trees.

How we cage trees

Two men put a beaver cage around a tree. The Council selects a variety of trees to cage based on size, species and proximity to the channel shoreline. Only about a third of trees are protected, leaving plenty of trees for beavers to chew on for food, shelter, or good ol’ teeth shaving!

Private Paddle Trips

Private Paddle Trips

Connect with your team & explore the Slough
The Columbia Slough Watershed Council offers private paddle trips to groups who are interested in experiencing this unique urban waterway!

We will work with you to shape a trip that best fits your needs, interests, and experience levels.

Trip Highlights

- Ideal for a wide range of group sizes, all ages welcome
- A great team building activity for business and organizations of all kinds
- Enjoy nature from the comfort of a canoe or kayak
- Experience and learn about the Columbia Slough Watershed

Private Paddle Tour

Interested in taking your group on a private paddle trip? Please fill out this form!
Because of limited availability, the earlier you put in your request for a private paddle the more likely we are to be able to accommodate you and your group. Spring and summer are particularly popular for these events.


$50 per person, seven person minimum (ages seven and up.) Youth age six and under are welcome free of charge. This is a one hour paddle launching from Whitaker Ponds Nature Park: 7040 Ne 47th Ave. Portland, OR 97218  

Scholarship:Limited scholarships and discounts available for community groups. To apply please fill out the form above and follow the link to apply for a scholarship.


Things to bring: Weather appropriate clothing, the Council will provide all necessary gear including life jackets.

Cancellation Policy: We ask that you plan to paddle rain or shine. If for some reason you need to cancel the event please let us know as soon as possible. Cancellations made within 24 hours of the event are non refundable.


Slough Celebration Past Award Winners

2018-19 Award Winners

• McKinstry Company
• Linda Robinson, Community Organizer/Activist
• David Biggs, Video Producer



2017-18 Award Winners

• Jennifer Sutter, Department of Environmental Quality
• Joe Ferguson, Alliance High School
• Mike Ward, Rivergate Scrap Metal

2016-17 Award Winners

• Brenda Demaree, Purdy Community Engagement Team
• Lower Slough Refugia Project: Dave Helzer, Fred MacGregor, Nadine Meyers, Melissa Brown, Peter Hesford, Greg Morrill and Clayton Solberg
• Vanport Mosaic Festival

2015 Award Winners

• Shannah Anderson, City of Portland – Bureau of Environmental Services
• Meei Lum, Leatherman Tool Group
• Knife River Corporation - Northwest
• Depave
• Matthew Todd, Buffalo Slough
• Lee Dayfield and Jim Labbe, Nadaka Park and Garden Project

2014 Award Winners

• Randy Belston-City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
• Don Goldberg and the Colwood Property Project-Trust for Public Land
• Mason Flats Stormwater-Wetland Restoration Project

2013 Award Winners

• Corky Collier-Columbia Corridor Association
• Jeff Locke-Friends of Smith and Bybee
• Recology-Stormwater Treatment Facility
• Jeremy Aasum-Graphic Designer-website

2012 Award Winners

• Rex Burkholder, Metro Councilor
• Toby Query, City of Portland-Ecologist
• City of Gresham-Columbia Slough Water Quality Facility
• Elena Mark-Portland Public Schools
• Port of Portland-PDX Deicing System
• Katy Weil-Metro-Smith and Bybee

2011 Award Winners

• Megan Hanson, City of Portland, Clean Rivers Education
• Verde
• David Kennedy, Architect
• Natural Area Land Acquisition-Shannah Anderson, Deb Lev, Leif Anderson, & Hillary Wilton
• Jamie Stamberger, City of Gresham

2010 Award Winners

• Rebecca Geisen, Portland Water Bureau
• City of Portland Terrestrial Ecology and Enhancement Strategy
• Sue Bielke- Turtle Research and Conservation
• Bruce Gilles-DEQ Settlement Process
• ODFW & BES- Lower Columbia Slough Fish Study

2009 Award Winners

• Aloft Portland Airport at Cascade Station
• Ken Finney, BES
• Wildlife Studies: Katie Holzer, David Kennedy, Julian Lawrence
• Lee Dayfield, Nadaka Park

2008 Award Winners

• James Davis, Metro, Environmental Education
• Portland International Airport Wildlife Hazard Management Program, Innovative Wildlife Management
• Fairview Creek Water Quality Facility, City of Gresham, Floodplain Restoration
• Harbor Oil Superfund Community Advisory Group
• Keelin Sanger, Reynolds Middle School

2007 Award Winners

• Erwin Bergman, Neighborhood Advocate
• Richard and Gyrid Towle, Columbia Children’s Arboretum
• City of Gresham-Keri Handaly & Kris Rein, Fairview Creek Burnside to Stark Restoration Project
• Rose Sandy & Jeff Walker, Multnomah Youth Cooperative
• Ken Barker & Jerry Lanz, Northwest Discoveries
• New Columbia-Housing Authority of Portland, Steve Fancher, & KPFF Consulting Engineers

2006 Award Winners

• Lynn Barlow, Watershed Revegetation Program
• Gregg Everhart, Trails Planning and Development
• Chris Scarzello, Environmental Code Improvement Process
• Ducks Unlimited, Fish Monitoring Program, Cyndi Baker
• Measure 26-80-Campaign for Natural Areas, Parks and Streams
• The Boeing Company, Land Donation

2005 Award Winners

• Jeff Adams, Aquatic Programs Director, Xerces Society
• Al Smith, Chair, Pacific Northwest Freshwater Mussel Workgroup
• Ry Thompson, Environmental Planner, City of Portland
• Bob Dolphin, Treasurer, Columbia Slough Watershed Council
• Linda Robinson, Neighborhood Advocate
• Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director, Audubon Portland

2004 Award Winners

• Nancy Hendrickson, Watershed Manager, City of Portland
• Matt Moule, Science Teacher, Whitaker Middle School
• Jay Mower, Urban Watershed Advocate
• Denise Rennis, Natural Resources Project Mgr, Port of Portland
• Amanda Briles, Eyes on the Slough Volunteer
• Florence & Ron Bunn, Jerome Duletzke, PPR, Bunn Property
• Ducks Unlimited & Jim Morgan, Smith and Bybee Lakes Water Control Structure
• Matt Weatherly, Volunteer Grantwriter

2003 Award Winners

• Kathi Futornick, Columbia Slough Watershed Action Plan
• Dave Masunaga, George Middle School
• Bruce McClelland, Multnomah County Drainage District #1
• Paul Trone, Volunteer, Columbia Slough Watershed Council
• Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office
• Fujitsu Microelectronics, Inc & Microchip Technology Inc.
• Friends of Blue Heron Wetlands
• Urban Forestry Canopy Study, Joe Poracsky & Mike Lackner
• Multnomah County “Big Year” Bird Study, Ian Tomlinson & John Fitchen
• Wellhead Protection Guidelines, Business, Industry & City Working Group

2002 Award Winners

• Dave Hendricks, Operations Manager, MCDD
• Kenton Elementary School Teachers, Susan Price, Kathy Rodgers, Amy Sands, and Andrew Jacquiss
• Friends of Trees, Neighborhood Trees Program
• Dorothy Sperry, Port of Portland
• Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, Regatta Support
• American Honda Company, Inc.
• Columbia Slough 1135 Ecosystem Restoration Project
• Explorando el Columbia Slough, Fernando Velez

2001 Award Winners

• Donna Hempstead
• Linda Robinson
• David Eatwell
• Open Meadow CRUE Program
• Leslie Winter-Gorsline, City of Portland BES
• Julie Howland, Portland Public Schools
• Port of Portland - Vanport Wetlands Project
• Center for Columbia River History, Community History

2000 Award Winners

• Troy Clark, Friends of Smith & Bybee Lakes
• Jennifer Devlin Educator, City of Portland, BES
• Mike Houck, Audubon Society of Portland
• Anne Nickel, former Executive Director of CCA
• John Bentley, Skyport Properties
• Jane Graybill, Citizen Activist
• Ned Hayes, Donor, Whitaker Ponds Natural Area
• Mike Hess, Teacher at Parkrose High School

1999 Award Winners

• Susan Barthel, City of Portland BES
• Alice Blatt, Citizen Extraordinaire
• George Kral, City of Portland Revegetation Program
• Dennis Sivers, D.W. Sivers Company
• Mary Abrams
• Howard and Carol Brandwein
• MCDD Employees
• Emily Roth
• Doug Saulter, Portsmouth Middle School
• Simpson Timber
• Gail Weatherby, Portsmouth/Gregory Heights Middle Schools
• Marv Welt, Northwest Steelheaders

1998 Award Winners

• Chuck Harrison, The Halton Company
• Steve Cameron, LWO Corporation
• Tim Hayford, MCDD
• Jim Pierce, Atlas Copco Wagner Inc.

Racial & Social Equity

Racial & Social Equity

Diversity Statement

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council recognizes that human diversity is a fundamental strength of our community, that racism and oppression have caused long-lasting and grievous harm, and that this is fundamentally relevant to our work. We are committed to engage participants, volunteers, staff, partners, and council members who live, work, and play in the watershed. 

In the summer of 2015, we wrote about our intention to delve into an organization-wide assessment focused on racial equity and inclusive community engagement. Over an 8-month period, Council staff members actively participated in the development of a Racial Equity Action plan based on the findings of our assessment.  Over the past four years, our organization has been making modifications to individual program delivery by prioritizing the needs of our watershed community. You can find the most updated list of goals and actions that we are currently implementing below.

Currently, with the help of partners and regional leaders advancing equity in our region, we’re working on the development of our racial & social equity strategy and our theory of change.  We’re working to develop a transparent program where our objectives have measurable outcomes that do not perpetuate institutional racism.  If you have questions about our process please contact us at or call 503-281-1132.

Resource Description
Equity Action Plan, 2017-18 Update
Latest update to the racial Equity Action Plan originally developed by staff in 2015.
Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorship Opportunities

The Columbia Slough is a special place to live, work, and play. Ensure that you are promoting a healthy Slough and a vibrant watershed community by sponsoring the Council’s education, recreation, and restoration programs. Learn more about sponsorship opportunities below.

Questions?  Give us a call at: (503) 281-1132 or email

Resource Description
2019 Comprehensive Sponsor Packet

Slough Stories

2014 was our 20th anniversary year as an organization and there are a thousand stories to tell about the last 20 years.

This video is a compilation of a few of the stories told at the Slough Stories event in November 2014. This is part of an effort to document efforts large and small that have improved the Columbia Slough watershed and raised public awareness of the waterway and the region. Enjoy this trip down memory lane (or should we say a paddle down memory slough).

We want to hear your story! Email your reflections to:


About the Event

Where and When

Melody Ballroom
615 Southeast Alder Street
Portland, OR 97214

Friday, February 5, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

About the Event

Each year at the Slough Celebration, the Columbia Slough Watershed Council honors individuals, programs and activities that have shown outstanding leadership and achievement in support of our mission: to foster action to protect, enhance, restore and revitalize the Columbia Slough and its watershed.  This year marks 21 years of:

  • Engaging students in outdoor science education
  • Working with community members to protect our valuable watershed
  • Creating habitat for fish and wildlife
  • Offering free outdoor paddling, walking, and biking experiences

For answers to frequently asked questions about the event, visit our FAQ page.

Award Winners

Leadership Award:

  • Shannah Anderson, City of Portland – Bureau of Environmental Services
  • Meei Lum, Leatherman Tool Group

Click here to learn more about the 2015 Leadership Award winners.

Achievement Award

  • Depave
  • Knife River Corporation – Northwest
  • Nadaka Park and Garden Project
  • Matthew Todd

Click here to learn more about the 2015 Achievement Award winners.


For questions and inquiries contact Outreach & Events Director Karen Carrillo,

Sponsorship Opportunities

Deepen your impact and recognition at Slough Celebration by sponsoring the event.  Sponsorship is a great way to show your support for a healthy watershed and community.  Table sponsorship starts at $250.  Learn more about event sponsorship opportunities here.

Silent Auction Donation Opportunities

We invite you to contribute to the Council by donating an item to our silent auction that will take place at the Slough Celebration Event. As an auction donor, you will be recognized in the event program, on signs at the auction/raffle tables, on our website, and in our newsletter.

Who will be bidding on your auction item? The attendees of our Slough Celebration are neighborhood residents, business owners, government officials, and outdoor recreationalists. This crowd tends to be enthusiastic about delicious food, fine wines and beers, local vacations, outdoor recreation, and the chance to support local and green businesses. This is an excellent opportunity to both advertise your business and demonstrate your commitment to healthy kids, communities, and watersheds.  We encourage individuals to donate as well.

Ready to donate?

Please mail your donation to Columbia Slough Watershed Council, 7040 NE 47th Ave, Portland, OR 97218 by January 22, 2016. We are also happy to pick up your donated items. Please complete this form, email or call (503) 281-1132 to arrange for donation pick up.

a special thanks to our auction donors

See our full list of auction donors here.

Event Sponsors

Sponsor Logos

Silent auction sponsor

Silent auction sponsor

a special thanks to our 2019 auction donors

Adam Reese
Alder Creek
Argyle Winery
Artistic Bliss Portraits
Assembly PDX
Audubon Society of Portland
Backyard Bird Shop
Bob & Nancy Dolphin
Bob’s Red Mill
Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Charles Starkey
Chinook Book
Colby Riley
Columbia Sportswear
Common Ground Wellness Co-operative
Domaine Serene
Elephant’s Deli
Elizabeth Chambers Cellars
Float On
Gallery Theater
Garden Fever!
Garnish Apparel
Gigantic Brewing
Glowing Greens Mini Golf
Grand Central Bowling
Lan Su Chinese Gardens
Laughing Planet
Lori Jorgenson
Lucky Mudd Inn & Disc Golf Resort
Maryhill Winery
Me Fitness Studio
New Deal Distillery
Next Adventure
NW Discoveries
Oregon Decorative Rock
Oregon Garden Resorts
Oregon Zoo
Pittock Mansion
Pix Patisserie
Plan-it Earth Design
Porque no? Taqueria
Portland Art Museum
Portland Baroque Orchestra
Portland Japanese Garden
Portland Nursery
Portland Spirit Cruises
Robyn Smith
Portland Timbers & Thorns FC
Portland’s Culinary Workshop
Troy Clark
Rare Earth Adventures
Silver Grille
Sizzle Pie
Songbird Healing Arts
Tamara Bartell
The Barberry restaurant
the Development Ltd.
Vitis Ridge Vineyards
Wilsonville Family Fun Center
Wines For Humanity
Working Class Acupuncture

Celebration Beer, Wine and Desserts

Casa Bruno
Domaine Serene Winery
Elk Cove Vineyards
Ex Novo Brewing Co.
Gigantic Brewing Co.
Maryhill Winery

Fleur De Lis Bakery
Kenny & Zukes
Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel
Marsee Baking
Miss Zumstein’s
New Cascadia Traditional
Nothing Bundt Cakes
The Pie Spot
Pix Patisserie

Silent Auction Donation Opportunities

We invite you to contribute to the Council by donating an item to our silent auction that will take place at the Slough Celebration Event. As an auction donor, you will be recognized in the event program, on signs at the auction/raffle tables, on our website, and in our newsletter. Please mail your donation to Columbia Slough Watershed Council, 7040 NE 47th Ave, Portland, OR 97218 by February 21, 2019. We are also happy to pick up your donated items. Please complete this form, email or call (503) 281-1132 to arrange for donation pick up. The attendees of our Slough Celebration are neighborhood residents, business owners, government officials, and outdoor recreationalists. This crowd tends to be enthusiastic about delicious food, fine wines and beers, local vacations, outdoor recreation, and the chance to support local and green businesses. This is an excellent opportunity to both advertise your business and demonstrate your commitment to healthy kids, communities, and watersheds.  We encourage individuals to donate as well!


Board Meetings

Board Meetings

Interested in making a difference in your watershed? Want to comment on and support the environmental education, restoration, and community engagement programs of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council? Then please join us for one of our board meetings!

The Council’s Board members meet on the fourth Monday of every month at various locations across the watershed. Our schedule may vary during the holiday season. See upcoming dates for our meetings listed below.

Agendas and minutes are available under the “About” section of this website. 

If you are interested in presenting at a Council Meeting, please contact our Outreach & Events Director at:

2019 Meetings

  • Jan. 28, 5:30-7:30pm - Gresham City Hall
  • Feb. 25, 5:30-7:30pm - Multnomah County Drainage District
  • March 25, 5:30-7:30pm - Whitaker Ponds, CSWC Classroom
  • April 22, 5:30-7:30pm - Kenton Library
  • May 20, 5 - 7:30pm - Kenton Library
  • June 24, 5:30 - 7:30pm - Gresham City Hall
  • July 22, 5:30 - 7:30pm - Multnomah County Drainage District
  • Aug. 26, 5:30 - 7:30pm - Summer BBQ at Wilshire Park
  • Sep. 23, 5:30 - 7:30pm - Gregory Heights Library
  • Oct. 28, 5:30 - 7:30pm - Multnomah County Drainage District
  • Nov. 25, 5 - 7:30pm - Gregory Heights Library
  • Dec. 16, 5:30 - 7:30pm - Multnomah County Drainage District

For more information: (503) 281-1132 or

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 with your proposal. 

We are not currently hiring for any internship positions.

Projects and Programs 2003-2013

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.

Contact us for more information:

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 an overview of the Action Plan (2003)
Watershed Facts

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
Find out what watershed you live in!
If you live in the Portland Metro area this website is a tool to helping you find out what watershed you live in. Watershed information is located on the "Environmental" tab.
History of the Watershed

History of the Watershed

The Slough wetlands and waterways were home for millennia to Native peoples as it provided abundant and diverse fishing and hunting opportunities, and safe canoe passage. The Portland metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla. Longhouses with hundreds of residents stretched along the Slough in a village called Neerchokikoo. 

The Hudson’s Bay Company set-up camp across the water from the Slough, in present-day Vancouver and began trapping otter and beaver in 1820.  Neerchokikoo villagers faced extremely difficult circumstances with the settlement of Portland, and the majority of tribal peoples were forcibly removed or died due to smallpox and other European diseases during the “cold sick” epidemic of the early 1830’s.  By the 1850’s, Europeans were rapidly settling the area, and farming had replaced trapping as the main European economic activity. Despite removal and disease, some Chinook tribal members continued to live along the Slough, with the last documented remaining elder moving out in 1906. He was known simply as “Indian John.

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.

Historia de la cuenca

Contact Us

Columbia Slough Watershed Council

Mailing Address/Office Location:
7040 NE 47th Ave
Portland, OR 97218

Phone: (503) 281-1132
Office Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Monday - Friday (Typically). We are working in the field at times.  Call ahead to make sure you catch us in the office.

Facebook: @columbiaslough
Twitter: @columbiaslough
Instagram: @columbiaslough

Member Area

Member access only.  For help please contact:

Mission Statement

OFB 2018

To protect and enhance the Columbia Slough and its watershed through community engagement, education, and restoration.




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.

No Ivy Day

Join Portland Parks & Recreation and Columbia Slough Watershed Council at the Johnson Lake Property to help restore this natural area by pulling invasive ivy. This is a family-friendly event and all ages are welcome, but children must be supervised by an adult. There will be a celebratory lunch following the workday. Register as an individual, business, or organization!

Register for No Ivy Day here: Sign up for No Ivy Day!

Stewardship Saturday

Stewardship Saturdays are morning work parties in local parks and natural spaces. Activities range from invasive species removal to litter pick up, native plant planting, mulching, trail maintenance and more. We provide tools and training - no experience is necessary! Register as an individual, or register your workplace, student group, or organization!

Register for a Stewardship Saturday here: Sign up for Stewardship Saturday!

Become a volunteer partner

We want to do a stewardship event with your business or organization! Please tell us about your business or organization by filling out this form or register for an event above. Get out and start serving your community today at a park near you! Contact our Volunteer Coordinator at or call (503) 281-1132.

Support stewardship in the watershed!

If you are interested in supporting these restoration efforts and events financially or by providing food for volunteers let us know! The Council is an IRS recognized non-profit organization. Contact our Volunteer Coordinator for more information or call (503) 281-1132.

With questions about these and other volunteer opportunities, contact our Volunteer Coordinator at or call (503) 281-1132.


Walking & Biking

Walking & Biking

Whether you enjoy exercise by foot or bike, you have a “slough” of options with the region’s evolving 40-mile loop (150-mile system) of walking and bicycle paths that connect trails throughout 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 east from Kelly Point Park to Sandy River Gorge and south to the Springwater Corridor. Here are a couple of resources to get you started.

  • 40-Mile Loop Trail
  • Portland Office of Transportation Biking Information
  • Neighborhood Biking/Walking Maps
  • 40-mile loop


    Please contact us at: or (503) 281-1132 if you are interested in resources not found on this site.

    Resource Description
    Annual Report (FY 17-18)
    Annual report covering June 1 2017 - June 30, 2018.
    Annual Report (FY 16-17)
    Annual report covering June 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017
    Annual Report (FY 15-16)
    Annual report covering June 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016
    Program Area Specific Highlights Report (FY 15-16)
    Program area highlights report covering June 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016
    Annual Report (FY 14-15)
    Annual report covering June 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015
    Program Area Specific Highlights Report (FY 14-15)
    Program area highlights report covering June 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015
    Watershed Wide Partner Newsletter
    This partner newsletter is compiled quarterly by Watershed Councils and Soil & Water Conservation Districts within the Portland Metro region.
    Projects and Programs 2003-2013
    Report on status of projects and programs in the watershed 2003-2013
    Encampment Resource Guide
    (No description availible)


    “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. Sign up here!

    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: or (503) 281-1132

    Resource Description
    August 27, 2018 Minutes
    August 2018 Meeting Minutes
    July 23, 2018 Minutes
    July 2018 Meeting Minutes
    June 25, 2018 Minutes
    June 2018 Meeting Minutes
    May 21, 2018 Minutes
    May 2018 Meeting Minutes
    April 30, 2018 Minutes
    April 2018 Meeting Minutes
    March 26, 2018 Minutes
    March 2018 Meeting Minutes
    February 26, 2018 Minutes
    February 2018 Meeting Minutes
    January 29, 2018 Minutes
    January 2018 Meeting Minutes
    November 27, 2017 Minutes
    November 2017 Meeting Minutes
    October 30, 2017 Minutes
    October 2017 Meeting Minutes
    September 25, 2017 Minutes
    September 2017 Meeting Minutes
    August 28, 2017 Minutes
    August 2017 Meeting Minutes
    January 30, 2017 Agenda
    January 2017 Meeting Agenda
    December 5, 2016 Agenda
    December 2016 Meeting Agenda
    August 29, 2016 Agenda
    August 2016 Meeting Agenda
    July 25, 2016 Agenda
    July 2016 Meeting Agenda
    June 27, 2016 Agenda
    June 2016 Meeting Agenda
    May 23, 2016 Agenda
    May 2016 Agenda
    April 25, 2016 Agenda
    April 2016 Meeting Agenda
    March 28, 2016 Agenda
    March 2016 Meeting Agenda
    February 29, 2016 Agenda
    February 2016 Meeting Agenda
    January 25, 2016 Agenda
    January 2016 Meeting Agenda
    October 26, 2015 Agenda
    October 2015 Meeting Minutes
    September 28, 2015 Agenda
    September 2015 Meeting Agenda
    August 31, 2015 Agenda
    August 2015 Meeting Agenda
    July 27, 2015 Agenda
    July 2015 Meeting Agenda
    June 29, 2015 Agenda
    June 2015 Meeting Agenda
    May 18, 2015 Agenda
    May 2015 Meeting Agenda
    April 27, 2015 Agenda
    April 2015 Meeting Agenda
    March 30, 2015 Agenda
    March 2015 Meeting Agenda
    February 23, 2015 Agenda
    February 2015 Meeting Agenda
    January 26, 2015 Agenda
    January 2015 Meeting Agenda
    December 15, 2014 Agenda
    December (Holiday) 2014 Meeting Agenda
    November 17, 2014 Agenda
    November Meeting Agenda (short meeting prior to Slough Stories event)
    October 27, 2014 Agenda
    October 2014 Meeting Agenda
    September 29, 2014 Agenda
    September 2014 Meeting Agenda
    August 25, 2014 Agenda
    August 2014 Meeting Agenda
    July 28, 2014 Agenda
    July 2014 Meeting Agenda
    June 30, 2014 Agenda
    June 2014 Meeting Agenda
    Board Members

    Board Members

    The CSWC board is a stakeholder representative board with traditional nonprofit board roles. This means our board is larger than average, and many of the seats are held by agency-appointed staff members. Board members are responsible for the policies, financial oversight, and general direction of our organization. In addition to monthly meetings, board members are encouraged to participate in a committee and occasionally volunteer at an event or in whatever capacity is a good fit.  Board meetings are typically on the last Monday evening of the month.

    Board officers

    • Chair: Sunny Simpkins, Multnomah County Drainage District
    • Vice Chair: Kathy Shearin, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
    • Secretary: Jenn Bies, Port of Portland
    • Treasurer: Keri Handaly, City of Gresham


    • Meei Lum


    • Bob Dolphin, Resident
    • Erwin Bergman, Resident


    • Troy Clark, Audubon Society


    • Daryl Houtman, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
    • Jenn Bies, Port of Portland
    • Kathy Shearin, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
    • Keri Handaly, City of Gresham
    • Sunny Simpkins, Multnomah County Drainage District


    • Adam Reese, Apex Companies


    • Emily Henke, Public Health Consultant

    Board committees

    • Diversity, equity and inclusion
    • Education
    • Fiscal
    • Fundraising
    • Tech team
    • Executive

    Join the board

    There are several open seats on the board that need to be filled representing science, environment, recreation and Native American Tribe/Culture seats. We also have openings for neighborhoods, community at large, and business representation. Prospective board members will have proven enthusiasm for the Council’s work in the watershed, value and practice a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens, and be willing to fulfill the basic expectations outlined in the board handbook.

    If you are interested in joining the board, please submit a completed board application form. A board member will reach out to answer questions and discuss the organization and board roles in more detail. You may also contact the Executive Director with inquiries at

    Resource Description
    Council Board Member Job Description
    Board Member Position Description
    Canoeing & Kayaking

    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. Note: some launch sites have had access restricted in recent years (11198 NE Simpson St. and more).
    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/Gear/SUP Rental and Sales Vendor. Skill building classes offered.
    Next Adventure Paddle Sports
    Kayak/Canoe/Gear/SUP Rental and Sales Vendor. Skill building classes offered.
    Portland Kayak Company
    Kayak Rental and Sales Vendor



    There are no job postings at this time

    Looking for other opportunities? Please consider volunteering with us to make connections and help serve the watershed! Visit our Get Involved page to learn about volunteer and internship opportunities.


    Resource Description
    No job postings at this time
    (No description availible)

    Field Programs

    Kelley Point Park SERVEWe design Field Programs for students to study the ecosystem of a site within the Columbia Slough Watershed and its nearby habitats. These trips are the field component for students who have completed at least one classroom presentation.

    What to Expect

    Field activities include:

    • Wildlife observation
    • Permeability, porosity, and the flow of water
    • Visiting Portland Water Bureau’s Groundwater Pump Station
    • Visiting Gresham’s Stormwater Treatment Facility and Wastewater Treatment Plant
    • Visiting Multnomah County Drainage District’s Pump Station
    • Water quality testing
    • Macroinvertebrate sampling
    • Identifying native and non-native plants
    • Habitat studies

    Field programs generally last between 1.5 - 2 hours and can include a stewardship project or deeper scientific investigation.


    After studying watersheds and riparian zones, students can participate in riparian restoration projects through our partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation, including:

    • Invasive plant removal
    • Mulching and trail maintenance
    • Planting native herbs, shrubs, and trees

    Cost and Transportation

    Slough School recognizes that school bus costs are a major barrier to getting kids outside to learn. It is our goal to provide programs free of charge to teachers and students within the Columbia Slough Watershed.

    Right now, thanks to funding from the Portland Water Bureau, Multnomah County Drainage District, and the Cities of Gresham and Fairview, we can help with many school bus transportation fees. Please check with Jennifer, the Education Director, about billing your academic transportation to Slough School.

    If you are in Portland Public Schools, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District has funding for your school’s transportation.

    Whitaker Ponds Nature Park is accessible by Tri-met bus #75 and is located at 7040 NE 47th Ave in Portland, a short walk from NE 47th & Columbia Blvd.

    Academic Standards

    We plan for Slough School field lessons to be in line with the science curriculum and standards that you are meeting in the classroom.

    Our programming supports Next Generation Science Standards at each grade level.


    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:

    Be Prepared

    Come to field experiences dressed appropriately for the weather! During the fall, winter, and spring it’s a great idea to wear:

    • Warm layers
    • A waterproof layer
    • Closed-toed shoes or boots

    ...all of which are OK to get dirty!

    Slough School has raingear, boots, and gloves for your students to borrow if they want it - let us know!

    We also need to be safe in our urban natural areas! We remember these guidelines in the field:

    • Sharp: Leave sharp things on the ground and tell an adult
    • Slippery: Walk carefully on surfaces
    • Stay With the Group: Always be able to see and hear your adult leaders

    Please invite enough adult chaperones to meet a 1:10 adult to student ratio.

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

    Jennifer Starkey, Education Director
    Phone: (503) 281-1132

    Viajes de Estudios


    OFB Autumn Harvest

    As a non-profit organization, we know our greatest asset is YOU - your enthusiasm, volunteer time, knowledge, and financial support keep us thriving. Your contribution this year will help us 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

    What can we do with your donation?​
    ♦ $5 - Two trees to plant along the Slough
    ​♦ $10 - Coffee for 12 volunteers at a winter tree planting event
    ♦ $20 - Two pairs of rain boots for kids on field trips
    ♦ $30 - 4 shovels for planting trees
    ♦ $40 - 1 month of our donor management software that keeps us running!
    ♦ $60 - 1 tank of gas for the Slough Truck, which we use to tow canoes to community events
    ♦ $100 - 1 bus rental to bring 40 kids on a Slough field trip
    ♦ $250 - 4 truck loads of garbage from the Slough to the dump
    ♦ $500 - Take 28 kids on a free canoe ride

    Holiday Special!

    Image of calendar pages

    For a limited time, you can receive the gift of our 2020 Local Wildlife Calendar with your donation of $20 or more:
    ♦ 1 free calendar with $20 donation
    ♦ 2 free calendars with $35 donation
    ♦ 3 free calendars with $50 family supporting level donation

    These calendars make awesome gifts for your friends and family! Pick up your calendar while supplies last at our office or at Gresham City Hall Main Floor Front Desk-1333 NW Eastman Parkway! Please call 503-281-1132 or email after you donate to arrange pick-up.

    More Ways to Support the Slough!

    Register Your Fred Meyer Rewards Card

    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: Register and then add Columbia Slough Watershed Council as your Community Rewards organization. Search for organization number: 83957

    Sponsorship Opportunities

    Deepen your impact and become a Council partner through Sponsorship.
    Visit our sponsor page for more information.
    Questions?  Give us a call at: (503) 281-1132 or email

    Plants & Wildlife

    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.

    Classroom Lessons

    Slough School provides classroom lessons tailored to fit the learning objectives of a specific group or classroom. We can combine programs to create a specific unit of interest.

    Habitats of Oregon

    What makes up a habitat? Food, Water, Shelter, Oxygen, and Space! Explore habitats of Oregon and the Columbia Slough watershed through hands-on activities. What animals find what they need to survive on Oregon’s Coast? Valley Ponds? Mountains? Desert? Students will select an animal from the Columbia Slough Watershed and draw it in its habitat.

    Core Ideas: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

    Crosscutting Concepts: Stability & Change :: Cause & Effect


    Erosion is: The movement of soil! Weathering breaks, and erosion TAKES. Students will investigate soil up close with lenses, examine how plants can affect erosion, and measure turbidity of water with sediment in it. What can we do to stop erosion?

    Core Ideas: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics :: Motion and stability: Forces and interactions :: Matter and its interactions :: Earth’s systems :: Earth and human activity

    Crosscutting Concepts: Stability & Change :: Cause & Effect :: Planning and carrying out investigations

    Practices: Constructing explanations and designing solutions :: Asking questions and defining problems,

    Animal Adaptations

    An adaptation is something an animal has or does that helps it survive in its environment. Discuss how animals have adapted to their specific environment. Identify the adaptations of birds, mammals and fish. Examine pelts, skulls and specimens of animals who live near the Columbia Slough.

    Core Ideas: Inheritance and Variation of Traits: Life Cycles and Traits :: Natural Selection and Adaptations :: Structure, Function, and Information Processing

    Crosscutting Concepts: Structure and Function :: Patterns :: Planning and carrying out investigations

    Practices: Constructing explanations and designing solutions :: Asking questions and defining problems :: Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

    Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

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

    NGSS 1st Grade: 1.Structure, Function, and Information Processing

    NGSS 2nd Grade: LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans: There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water.

    Groundwater, Porosity, and Permeability

    The Columbia Slough Watershed sits right on top of Portland’s secondary source of drinking water, the Columbia South Shore Well Field! Learn how local geology affects our groundwater system. Using an interactive model, discover how local choices affect groundwater safety. How much energy does it take to move water against gravity?

    NGSS Middle School: ESS2.A: Earth’s Materials and Systems, ESS3.A: Natural Resources

    Riparian Zones and Native vs Invasive Plants

    What is a Riparian Zone? It’s the Land By the Water! Students will differentiate native and invasive plants and how they both affect water quality and habitat. What’s the difference between herbs, trees, and shrubs? Students will get to identify plant samples with field guides.

    NGSS 5th Grade: LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

    Water Quality

    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.

    Watershed Model

    What is a Watershed?

    Water + Gravity + Land = A watershed. Learn about watersheds and sources of pollution through historical and current maps, drawing, and a watershed model.

    NGSS 5th Grade: PS2.B: Types of Interactions: The gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth’s surface pulls that object toward the planet’s center.

    NGSS Middle School: ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes

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

    Jennifer Starkey, Education Director
    Phone: (503) 281-1132

    Slough FAQs

    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…



    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.

    Maps & Guides

    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.

    Mapas y Guías

    Resource Description
    General Maps and Guides
    PDF files of maps and guides.
    Canoeing & Kayaking Resources
    PDF files of maps and guides as well as links to information about canoeing and kayaking local resources.
    Biking and Walking Resources
    PDF files of maps and guides as well as links to information about walking and biking local resources.

    Slough School


    Slough School is the Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s education program, serving students in kindergarten through college. Slough School provides hands-on opportunities for students to learn about the history and ecology of the watershed, what lives here, and how humans have changed this place.

    Program Structure

    Slough School programming is free for students in grades K-college who live or attend schools within the Columbia Slough Watershed. We offer a wide variety of academic programs, including:

    Classroom Lessons

    Field Programs

    Stewardship Service Learning at sites along the Slough.

    Interested in working with us? Fill out this form!

    Geographic Area

    A watershed is:
    An area of land
    Where all the water flows
    To a common point
    (such as a river, lake or slough)

    What is a Slough? A slough is a Small, Slow, Skinny, Shallow body of water. The Columbia Slough is a series of lakes, wetlands, and slow-moving channels in the southern floodplain of the Columbia River. On this map, when rain hits the land anywhere in the green area, gravity takes it to the Columbia Slough. If your school is in the green area, you qualify for our programs!

    Schools in the Columbia Slough Watershed

    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 Kelley Point Park in the west to Fairview Lake and the headwaters of Fairview Creek in the east; from Marine Drive 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.

    Teachers and program coordinators, if you are interested in creating a plan of study with the Slough School, contact:

    Jennifer Starkey, Education Director
    Phone: (503) 281-1132


    Slough School is made possible through funding from:
    The Trail Blazers Foundation, Boeing, the Ralph & Adolph Jacobs Foundation, and the Hampton Family
    Partnerships with: East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, City of Gresham, City of Fairview, Portland Water Bureau, Multnomah County Drainage District, Clean Rivers Education, and Portland Parks and Recreation.


    LYFE IN THA SLOUGH #sloughschool

    A video posted by Columbia Slough (@columbia_slough) on

    Volunteer with Slough School

    Slough School volunteers assist with the delivery of all Slough School education activities under the supervision of our excellent educators. We’d love to have you! Find details and application instructions in the position description at the bottom of this page.

    Educación: Slough School

    Resource Description
    Slough School Education Volunteer
    Slough School Volunteer Position Description
    Slough News

    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

    Noticias del Columbia Slough

    Events & Workshops

    Events & Workshops

    Explore the Slough and learn about our local natural environment!

    At the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, our community engagement program offers free environmental education activities, bike tours, workshops, paddling events, and multi-cultural festivals with the objective of increasing community engagement and awareness around the cultural importance and biological richness of this special waterway.



    - Attracting Pollinators
    - Creating Edible Landscapes
    - Groundwater 101
    - Native Plants
    - Naturescaping Basics
    - Raingardens 101
    - Slough 101
    - Stormwater 101
    - Urban Weeds
    - Wetlands 101

    Bike & Walk Tours

    - Bat Night
    - Bike the Levees
    - Bird Walks
    - Cycle the Well Field
    - Owl Prowl

    Paddling Events

    - Bring Your Own Boat
    - Columbia Slough Regatta
    - Evening Canoe the Slough (Spring & Fall)
    - Moonlight Paddle
    - Vietnamese Paddle

    Community Festivals

    - Aquifer Adventure
    - Columbia Slough Regatta
    - Explorando el Columbia Slough

    Click here to learn more and register for upcoming events and workshops! For additional information and/or questions, please contact our Outreach & Events Director:

    Sponsors & Partners

    Our recreation activities are made possible by funding from: Boeing, the Bureau of Environmental Services, East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, Metro, and the Portland Water Bureau, as well as partnerships with: Community Cycling Center, Hacienda CDC, Living Cully, Verde, and Next Adventure.

    Eventos & Actividades

    Get Involved

    Get Involved

    There are many ways to get involved with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. Opportunities vary from attending events and workshops, pulling blackberries and planting native trees, editing our newsletter, or 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 out our list of upcoming activities!.

    Come Play with us:

    Our interest in having fun on the Slough is part of what makes our organization successful. We host paddling trips, tours of the watershed, hikes, and bike rides.

    Check out our list of upcoming activities!.

    Join Our Mailing List:

    The Columbia Slough Watershed Council has an email list that keeps subscribers 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 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: Register, and then add Columbia Slough Watershed Council as your Community Rewards organization. Search for organization number: 83957.



    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.

    Our Vision for the Watershed: An urban watershed rich in clean water and healthy habitats that supports the needs of fish, wildlife, plants and people.

    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)

    For more information: (503) 281-1132 or

    Quienes Somos

    Resource Description
    Annual Summary
    Annual Summary 2017-18
    Annual Report
    Columbia Slough Watershed Council Annual Report FY 2017-18
    Letter of Support Process
    Information on how to request a letter of support from the Council.
    Volunteer Opportunities

    Volunteer Opportunities

    Bring your talents to the council! The Council has a number of volunteering opportunities for individuals, groups and families.


    Help us spread the word and reach new communities in our watershed! Outreach volunteers are comfortable communicating with community members about the activities and projects of the Council. After a training, outreach volunteers attend various community events, festivals and street fairs engaging the public about the Council’s activities and programs. These volunteers are most active in the spring and summer seasons. How to get involved:

    Select “Outreach” on the Volunteer Interest Form


    Check out our upcoming events schedule

    Paddle Team:

    The 2019 Paddle Team cohort has been established. Please check back in Spring 2020.
    As a member of the Paddle Team you will be contributing to a growing program that strives to engage communities in Fairview, Gresham and Portland to learn about, enjoy, and assist with restoration efforts of their local watershed and natural areas. We’re seeking novice to advanced paddlers to assist with our evening paddles, Slough School youth paddles and summer festivals. 

    Fill out the Paddle Team Application

    kids testing

    Slough School:

    Enjoy spending time with youth in the outdoors? Slough School volunteers assist our Slough School educators in the delivery of classroom and field-based science programs during school field trips to Whitaker Ponds Nature park and other watershed locations. Slough School activities are fun and educational! They range from native plantings to water chemistry studies and guided nature hikes. Volunteers are trained and supported by the Slough School staff. How to get involved:

    Select “Slough School” on the Volunteer Interest Form

    Office & Admin:

    The Council welcomes office volunteers throughout the year. Office volunteers assist with a wide variety of administrative tasks from event preparation and data entry to graphic design. A successful office volunteer pays attention to details and is comfortable taking direction. A general knowledge of computers and Google Drive is helpful. How to get involved:

    Select “Office & Admin” on the Volunteer Interest Form


    No Ivy Day:

    Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council and Portland Parks & Recreation as we work to remove English ivy from the Johnson Lake area. Invasive species removal restores wildlife habitat and to encourages native species regeneration to prevent erosion and water run-off. Please wear long thick pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Bring a water bottle, rain gear, and sunhat. Instruction, tools, gloves, water, coffee/tea and snacks provided. This is a family-friendly event and all ages are welcome, but children must be supervised by an adult. Register here:

    Sign up for No Ivy Day

    Stewardship Saturdays:

    These volunteer work parties at locations all around the watershed focus on creating habitat for all Slough creatures- people included! These events are great opportunities to enjoy your local natural areas while simultaneously giving back to your community. They are open to individuals and volunteer groups. Environmental restoration activities include invasive plant removal, litter pick up, native plant installation and more! We provide all tools, and training. How to get involved:

    Sign up for a Stewardship Saturday


    Cleanups are another way to get involved with the our stewardship program. With the support of incredible volunteers, we paddle the Slough in canoes removing trash. In 2018 we will be hosting a spring cleanup event in addition to our annual and always epic Great Slough Cleanup! How to get involved: Sign up for our volunteer newsletter by clicking the blue newsletter button on the right or

    Select “Stewardship” on the Volunteer Interest Form

    and we will keep you posted as dates are set for these events!


    Every year, along with community partners and sponsors; the Council hosts free community events in our community! Hundreds of participants from the watershed come out to experience the Slough with us throughout the summer. Whether it is Aquifer Adventure, a pirate-themed groundwater festival or Regatta where all are welcome to borrow a canoe to paddle the Slough, all events rely on volunteer support! Volunteer shifts are usually 3-4 hours long, with the benefits of tasty snacks provided by us, excellent company from volunteers like you, and infinite inspiration provided by the community. How to get involved:

    Select “Events” on the Volunteer Interest Form


    See our upcoming events schedule

    Board & Committees:

    Join other dedicated community members on our board or one of our committees! These are great leadership opportunities for volunteers looking to have a positive impact on the watershed. How to get involved:

    Learn how the board & committees work

    Other Thoughts?

    If you have other skills questions or want to be involved with the council as a volunteer, contact our Volunteer Coordinator at or 503 281-1132.

    Resource Description
    2019 Volunteer Paddle Team Cohort
    Description of the Paddle Team and 2019 position requirements.

    Council Staff

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

    Upcoming Events

    Upcoming Events

    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: or (503) 281-1132.

    Year at a Glance

    Year at a Glance

    See below for 2019 Columbia Slough Watershed Council events:

    For most current information on events please see the upcoming events page of our site.



    • Owl Prowl October 11th, 7-9 PM

    • No Ivy Day, Johnson Lake Property, October 26th, 9 AM-12 PM

    • Council Meeting at MCDD, October 28th, 5:30-7:30 PM


    • Council Meeting at Gregory Heights Library, November 25th, 5:30-7:30 PM


    • Council Meeting,  MCDD, December 16th, 5:30-7:30 PM



    • Holiday Tree Tossing Party, Kelley Point Park, January 4th, 10AM-1 PM

    • Stewardship Saturday, Columbia Park, January 25th, 9AM-12PM

    • Groundwater 101 Workshop, McKinstry Company,  January 25th, 9AM-1 PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30 PM


    • Stewardship Saturday, Columbia Children’s Arboretum, February 1st, 9 AM-12PM

    • Stewardship Saturday, NE Ainsworth Corridor, February 8th, 9AM-12PM

    • Stewardship Saturday, Heron Lakes Golf Course, February 22nd, 9AM-12PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30PM

    • Stewardship Saturday,Wilkes Creek Headwaters, February 29th, 9AM-12PM


    • Stewardship Saturday, Kelley Point Park, March 7th, 9AM-12PM

    • Slough Celebration Gala, Sheraton Airport Hotel, March 13th, 6-9:30 PM

    • Stewardship Saturday, Johnson Lake, March 21st, 9AM-12PM

    • Council Meeting TBD, 5:30-7:30PM


    • Russian Paddle, TBD

    • Stewardship Saturday Earth Day event, Wilkes Creek Headwaters, April 18th, 9AM-12PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30 PM

    • Bike The Levees, TBD, April 26th, 9AM-1PM

    • Paddle Team Training Part 1, TBD, April 30th, 5:30-8:30 PM


    • Paddle Team Training Part 2, May 3rd, 9AM-2PM

    • Bat Night, Columbia Children’s Arboretum, 7:30-9:30PM

    • Stewardship Saturday, Baltimore Woods, May 9th, 10AM-1PM

    • Evening Canoe, TBD, May 22nd, 5-7:30PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30PM


    • Cycle the Well Field, Aloft Airport Hotel, June 13th, 8:45AM -1:30PM

    • Explorando el Columbia Slough, TBD, June 27th, 1-5PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30PM


    • Great Slough Clean-Up, Multiple sites, July 18th, 9AM-1PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD,  5:30-7:30PM

    • Moonlight Paddle, Parkrose Boat Launch, July 31st, 9-11PM


    • Columbia Slough Regatta, St Johns Landfill Canoe Landing, August 16th, 10AM-1PM

    • Bat Night, August 28th, 7:30-9:30PM

    • Council Meeting: Summer BBQ, TBD, 5:30-7:30PM


    • Aquifer Adventure, 166th & Airport Way, September 12th, 12-4PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30PM


    • Evening Canoe, Whitaker Ponds, October 2nd, 5-7:30PM

    • Owl Prowl, Whitaker Ponds, October 16th, 7-9PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30PM


    • Stewardship Saturday, TBD, 9AM-12PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30PM


    • Stewardship Saturday, TBD, 9AM-12PM

    • Council Meeting, TBD, 5:30-7:30PM

    State of the Slough

    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 affect 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

    Our Watershed

    The Columbia Slough is a 60-mile long remnant of lakes, wetlands and slow-moving channels, that were formerly floodplains connected to the Columbia River.  The Slough wetlands and waterways were home for millennia to Native peoples, namely the Upper Chinook, as it provided abundant and diverse fishing and hunting opportunities, and safe canoe passage. Today, the ceded land now known as Portland, is home to the nation’s ninth largest urban Native American population.


    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 Multnomah County.

    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.

    Nuestra Cuenca

    La cuenca del Columbia Slough es una red de 40 millas de humedales, pantanos, lagos y canales de la antigua llanura aluvial del rio Columbia.  Esta cuenca de 50 millas cuadradas capta los escurrimientos y agua subterránea que la rodean y es rica en recursos naturales. 

    La cuenca sustenta a numerosas especies de peces, aves, y vida silvestre, y provee importantes funciones ecológicas: mejorar la calidad del aire y agua, proveer drenaje y ayudar a controlar las inundaciones. Este es un lugar bello para la contemplación, recreación y el descanso.

    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.

    Help restore native habitat at No Ivy Day

    Help restore native habitat at No Ivy Day

    Come out to No Ivy Day on Oct 26th, a fun and cathartic city-wide restoration event!

    Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council and Portland Parks & Recreation as we work to remove English ivy from the Johnson Lake area.

    Help us restore this natural area, then join us for a celebration! Choose from two celebration sites: Forest Park or George Himes Park.

    For more information, check out this link!

    Aquifer Adventure is around the corner, Mate!

    Aquifer Adventure is around the corner, Mate!

    Join us on September 14th for a free family festival featuring over 60 pirates, free ice cream, free boat rides and free t shirts! Aquifer Adventure celebrates our groundwater resources at this unique children’s festival by providing hands on science-based activities, with a pirate flare! For more information, please check out this link!

    McKinstry Co

    McKinstry Co

    Register today for Regatta 2019!

    Register today for Regatta 2019!

    Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for Regatta, an on the water paddle festival like no other, Sunday, August 11th from 10am to 2pm at the Multnomah County Drainage District (MCDD) office!  Regatta celebrates recreation opportunities on Portland’s hidden gem of local waterways, the Columbia Slough. Regatta is not actually a race; this family friendly event is a fun paddle for experienced and novice paddlers alike.

    The event features donation-based 45-minute canoe and kayak rentals (all equipment provided) for registered attendees. Before and after paddling, participants can visit with local environmental and water-based organizations, enjoy hands-on activities, live music, food trucks, and walking tours of a levee system! Free t-shirts will be provided while supplies last!

    Advanced registration is required here or by calling (503) 281-1132. Participants with their own human-powered watercraft and safety equipment are also welcome to register at the link above. Crews will be available to help unload and transport boats.

    Check out the event page to learn more!

    Slough 101 flyer

    Galmour shots from an amazing Gala!

    Galmour shots from an amazing Gala!

    Even though a few weeks have passed, we are still relishing in the glory an amazing Slough Celebration Gala! Thanks to the generosity and support of our donors, staff, volunteers, and all who attended the Gala, we were able to surpass our fundraising goal. Thank you also to Traveling Julie Photography and Portland Event Photography for capturing some of our favorite moments of the night:






    Welcome New Executive Director, Cathy Kellon

    Welcome New Executive Director, Cathy Kellon

    Dear CSWC Community,

    After a wide-ranging search, we are excited to announce a new Executive Director for our organization. We have chosen Cathy Kellon to lead our agency into 2019 and going forward. Her experience, credentials and leadership skills are a great match for what our organization needs in order to meet the challenges which await us in the future.

    Here is a little background for people who do not know anything about Cathy:
    Cathy P. Kellon has over 18 years of experience developing and applying strategic approaches to improve habitat for native fish and wildlife, expand public awareness about the value of nature’s services, and increase community access to clean water. Most recently, Cathy was the Working Waters Director at the nonprofit organization, The Geos Institute, where she co-founded the Drinking Water Providers Partnership and led efforts to restore streams in the Pacific Northwest to benefit native fish habitat and drinking water supplies. Previously, she led the Water and Watersheds Program and the State of the Salmon Program at Ecotrust. She has served on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council and Carpe Diem West’s Healthy Headwaters Leadership Team. Cathy earned her Masters degree in Geography, with a minor in Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, from Oregon State University. 

    Please join us as we welcome Cathy Kellon to our organization.


    Bob Dolphin
    Chairperson, CSWC Board of Directors

    Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >