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Meandering creek replaces duck pond

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Contractors install the framework that will support the spectators boardwalk that will soon be completed.As summer drew to a close, so did the project that turned the concrete-rimmed Westmoreland Park duck pond back into the meandering natural creek it originally was.

As THE BEE toured the site in late September, at about midpoint in the park, City of Portland B.E.S. Environmental Program Coordinator Ronda Fast pointed out how the stream now snakes through an area that will soon become marshlands during high water season.

“You can see that we've installed large woody debris that serves as habitat, and hydrological controls,” Fast said. “Right now, the new boardwalk that parallels the east side of the creek is being constructed. Pathways, picnic benches, and trails will be built over the next few weeks.”

The canvas lining the banks of the creek will eventually disintegrate. “Its purpose is to hold the banks in place, so that the bank-side plants can establish their root systems,” Fast explained.

After a summer of heavy machine operators carving out pools and riffles for the streambed during construction, the natural-bottom Crystal Springs Creek now is flowing as intended through the north end of Westmoreland Park.

“Where you see the stream looking riffle-like on the surface is above a shallower area. It is prime spawning habitat,” Fast smiled. “Over deeper areas, the water surface is smooth, and looks like it’s hardly moving. That’s where we’ve installed the logs and root balls, which provides habitat under the water that you can’t see – that's where the magic happens.”

Two mating pairs of mallard ducks swam by, quacking (one assumes) their approval of the restored creek. “That’s what we like to see here, instead of domestic ducks.” The park previously had a number of abandoned pet ducks, which were gathered up in a roundup reported upon by THE BEE and placed with people willing to keep them in private ponds.

Fast had a request for neighbors and visitors: “The best way to help our ducks is to just watch them, and let them forage for themselves. Please, don’t feed human food to the ducks; it makes them grotesquely unhealthy, and they lose the ability to forage on their own.”

The north end of the park will be more than “just a marsh” Fast observed, as our visit ended. “It will soon be a functioning wetland, and one that that people can enjoy.”