Oaks Bottom done; Springwater trail reopens
Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) didn't cut a ribbon to celebrate the completion of the "Oaks Bottom Habitat Enhancement Project" – but they did hold an on-site press conference on Monday morning, October 22.
Promises that the Springwater Corridor Trail would open on schedule came true; in fact, it reopened a day earlier than planned – on Hallowe'en.
"It is great honor to be here today to complete this major restoration project to bring salmon back to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and benefit other wildlife – and the citizens of Portland," exclaimed the overseer of both BES and PP&R, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. "Instead of a small culvert, we now have a 'salmon subway' that reconnects the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and the Willamette River for the first time in over 100 years!"
All of those who later spoke at the ceremony thanked those on foot and on bicycles for their "patience and understanding" during the trail's closure through Oaks Bottom in the previous four months.
"This is another 'home run' that we've hit with the Army Corps of Engineers here in Inner Southeast Portland – who previously oversaw the Crystal Springs Creek Restoration project, and now, restoration here in Oaks Bottom," Fish told THE BEE after the congratulatory speeches had concluded.
"Oaks Bottom, right here in Sellwood, is one of our great natural areas, and is reflective of the values of our city," Fish reflected. "It was initially slated for development, but instead is now a properly-functioning natural area, thanks to the partnership between BES and the USACE, and their contractors.
"Juvenile salmon now have a rest stop on their journey to the ocean. And, I look forward to biking here with my son and enjoying nature, in the heart of our urban environment."
Still to come along the trail, a bit closer to Oaks Amusement Park, will be a "viewing deck", said PP&R Natural Areas Supervisor Lynn Barlow. "On the viewing deck, folks will be able to get up above and off the trail to look at the birds and animals in the wet [lagoon] area of the wildlife refuge."
The public is also welcome to hike the other trail – the Oaks Bottom Bluff Trail, the path that snakes along the toe of the Willamette Bluff on east side of the wildlife refuge – but otherwise, people are not allowed in that area, she said. "The wildlife area is a waterway channel and wetlands for wildlife use, and not for human recreation; so, we do want people to enjoy this area by looking at it from the trail, without walking down into it."
However, in the spring, citizen volunteers will be invited into the area for "planting parties", to add additional native species to the area.