City of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Portland District Commander Col. Jose Aguilar announced that a plan to restore five Portland sites in the lower Willamette River basin was unanimously approved yesterday by the Civil Works Review Board of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, District of Columbia.
“Today is the culmination of almost two decades of work and marks an important milestone in our efforts to restore the Willamette River,” said Hales. “Because the Army Corps of Engineers has now given its official blessing, we have an opportunity to transform both the river’s aquatic riparian ecosystem and our city.”
The Lower Willamette River Environmental Dredging and Ecosystem Restoration project will restore 74 acres of riparian, wetland, shallow water, and backwater habitat in the lower Willamette basin in Portland.
The project will restore 2.7 stream miles and include restoration at two locations on the main stem Willamette, two on the Columbia Slough and one on Tryon Creek.
“There is some great restoration already underway in the Willamette basin by other agencies, and our project will connect work being done by others,” Aguilar said. “It is an excellent example of all our efforts being greater than what we each could do alone.”
City of Portland Watershed Services Manager Jane Bacchieri accompanied Aguilar to express support for the project to the Civil Works Review Board. After presentations by Aguilar and Bacchieri, the board approved the Chief of Engineers’ draft report, which will now be released for state and agency review.
After the review, Army Corps Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick will evaluate the study and forward his recommendation to Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, for administrative review and transmittal to Congress, expected in early 2016. Congress must re-authorize the Water Resources Development Act and appropriate funds in order for the Corps and the city to finalize plans and begin construction.