Errol Heights and Wetlands
Project #: 15308 – Updated: April 01, 2015
This 16 acre site has diverse habitats with high ecological potential: wetlands, ponds, meadows, and a natural spring. The City of Portland's Parks and Recreation acquired part of the land in the project area through several acquisitions over time, with original parcels zoned as protected environmental lands. The site was covered in invasive species and had been used as an illegal dump. In the mid-1990's, community groups including: Friends of Errol Heights, Friends of Trees, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and Portland Parks, began removing debris, clearing invasive species and pla...view full description
Location (by county):
Multnomah County (OR)
OR District 03
Bird Conservation Regions:
Northern Pacific Rainforest
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Full Project Description
This 16 acre site has diverse habitats with high ecological potential: wetlands, ponds, meadows, and a natural spring. The City of Portland's Parks and Recreation acquired part of the land in the project area through several acquisitions over time, with original parcels zoned as protected environmental lands. The site was covered in invasive species and had been used as an illegal dump. In the mid-1990's, community groups including: Friends of Errol Heights, Friends of Trees, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and Portland Parks, began removing debris, clearing invasive species and planting natives at this site. Much of this work is ongoing. As of 2011, Friends of Errol Heights continues to have monthly work parties, Friends of trees worked in the uplands to establish Oregon white oak and pacific madrone from 2004-2006 and the Johnson Creek Watershed Council held a work party here during the 2006 Watershed Wide Event. Many of these groups also participated in the development of a master plan for Errol Heights Park, completed in 2006. The master plan for the park treats the site as a hybrid park, addressing both the ecological potential of the site and the recreational desires of the neighborhood. The lower portion of the park, Errol heights, now contains a path where neighbors can stroll through the enhanced wetlands and surrounding ponds.
Within Errol Heights Park BES completed the Errol Heights Wetlands restoration project in 2006. This small, rare group of wetlands encompasses about 2.5 acres that feed Errol Creek. Errol Heights Wetlands was designated a high priority restoration area because of its abundant cool water springs and location as headwaters of a tributary near spawning habitat in Johnson Creek. Errol Creek is ideal rearing habitat, summertime cold-water refugia, and winter off channel habitat for anadromous fish.
Four fish passage barriers along Errol Creek prevent anadromous fish passage into the proposed wetlands restoration project area. This project removed the barrier furthest upstream, created by a private road off SE Harney Drive. The culvert was almost entirely submerged and was considered a complete barrier to juveniles and adult fish. The project removed drain tiles and 744 cubic yards of fill material on .63 acres of the site to restore 839 sq ft of wetland pond/emergent habitat and 6,276 sq ft of wetland scrub-shrub habitat. The project also restored 7,053 sq ft of riparian hardwood habitat, and 11,699 sq ft of mixed conifer/hardwood upland habitat (see before and after Photos 12a and b). Over 400 trees, 700 shrubs, 1,000 live cuttings and 25 pounds of grass and wildflower seeds were planted throughout the project.
Post-project monitoring has primarily been conducted with photo documentation and visual observation. Pre and post-project monitoring suggests that vegetation is establishing, providing shade and bank stabilization.
Changes to the bank and bed‐form downstream of the restoration area have been noted and will continue to be monitored to determine if stabilization actions are necessary. Old drain tiles continue to drain area wetland. One of the pipes running under the stream broke open causing much of the stream to flow subsurface into the pipe. The pipe is slowly filling with gravels, cobbles, and fine sediment forcing the flow back into the stream channel. Some erosion has resulted from the changes in flow.
For a full report of the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services monitoring efforts see BES Restoration Effectiveness pdf attached under "project documents."
The amphibian monitoring program began in 2008 and is funded by the Bureau of Environmental Services. Portland Parks and Recreation conducted terrestrial amphibian monitoring surveys at Errol Heights in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. In spring 2009 and 2010, Oregon Salamanders were found during a terrestrial survey. No amphibian egg masses or tadpoles were found in 2008, 2009, and 2010. High nitrate levels during 2008-2010 may be a contributing factor to the absence of pond-breeding amphibians. However other contributing factors may be present and a yearly site visit to check for pond-breeding amphibians is recommended. See "2011 Amphibian Report" under Project Documents for more information.
In 2005, Parks and Recreation mailed neighborhood residents a newsletter and survey to provide direction on the project plans moving forward. Some examples of survey results are: the vast majority wanted the park to support activities such as walking and wildlife viewing, and about half hoped to be able to read/relax, picnic, and walk their dog. The primary issues respondents raised were a concern for lack of safety and security due to lack of lighting, a desire to keep ponds and water features in the park, and a desire for a soft, rustic type, well-lit path.
Community forums at the Brentwood/Darlington Community Center have also provided a way for the public to participate in the process.
Some of the funding for this project came from a settlements in 2005 for a motor oil and chemical spill Johnson Creek that resulted from a fire at Thermo Fluids Inc. As part of the settlement, Thermo Fluids funded $144k of the restoration at Errol Creek.
Project Assistance & Partnership Opportunities
There's a new Friends of Errol Heights -- call the Johnson Creek Watershed Council for contact info.
Goals and Targets
- Personal Interest
- neighborhood groups have been heavily involved in this project.
- Conservation Mission
- "To inspire and facilitate community investment in the Johnson Creek Watershed for the protection and enhancement of its natural resources." --mission statement of Johnson Creek Watershed Council "SOLV brings Oregonians together to improve the environment and provide a legacy of stewardship." --Mission Statement of SOLV
- Remove garbage and debris
Several dumpsters, including refrigerators, tires and a bus have been removed from the site.
- Control Invasive Plants
Blackberry and reed canary grass and other invasives have been treated, and though much reduced are still present at the site.
- Establish Native Plants
Thousands of plants have been planted on the site, including red osier dogwood, red alder, Oregon ash, swamp rose and hardhack in the wetland understory, and madrone and white oak in the uplands
- Restore wetland function
Wood placed in the creek in 1998 reduced downcutting of the channel bed and allowed water to overspill the banks into the historical floodplain and surrounding wetland. The area is now a seasonal wetland with a well established plant community.
Consistent with plans:
- Watershed Plan
- Johnson Creek Watershed Action Plan (JCWC) Johnson Creek Restoration Plan (BES)
- Rivers and Streams
- Human Habitats
- Urban and Residential
- Suburban Habitats (Moderate Intensity Developed)
- Urban and Residential
- Wetlands and Riparian Habitats
- Western Trillium Trillium ovatum
- Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta
- Common Large Monkeyflower Mimulus guttatus
- Rainbow Trout or Steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss
- Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii
- Ensatina Ensatina eschscholtzii
Is the success of this project's actions being monitored? Yes
Please describe your monitoring activity.
As of 2006, Friends of Trees was performing annual maintenance.
See also: "Site Treatment Report from BES Watershed Revegetation Program", 2006 Project Assessment, and "2011 Johnson Creek Watershed Council Survey Results" also attached under "Project Documents", at right.
For a full report of the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services monitoring efforts see BES Restoration Effectiveness pdf attached under "Project Documents."
What lessons have been learned and/or what suggestions do you have for similar activities?
The WRP has noted that on a project level, planted species tend to perform better in the wet areas of the site, while plants exhibit less vigor in upland sections of the site.