Errol Heights and Wetlands

Project #: 15308  –   Updated: April 01, 2015

Project Summary

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...

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Location (by county):
Multnomah County (OR)

Watersheds:
Lower Willamette

Congressional Districts:
OR District 03

Bird Conservation Regions:
Northern Pacific Rainforest

USFWS Regions:
Pacific Region

Project size:
13.59 acres
0.16 miles

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Stream meander Yes
Stream meander Yes
Land acquisition Yes
Errol Heights Yes

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.

Wetland Restoration

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.

Photo Monitoring

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 bedā€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."

Amphibian Monitoring

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.

Community Feedback

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.

Funding

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

Volunteers

There's a new Friends of Errol Heights -- call the Johnson Creek Watershed Council for contact info.

Funding

Goals and Targets

Primary motivations:

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

Primary goals:

Remove garbage and debris
Progress:

Several dumpsters, including refrigerators, tires and a bus have been removed from the site.

Control Invasive Plants
Progress:

Blackberry and reed canary grass and other invasives have been treated, and though much reduced are still present at the site.

Establish Native Plants
Progress:

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
Progress:

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)

Targeted habitats:

    • Aquatic
      • Rivers and Streams
    • Human Habitats
      • Urban and Residential
        • Suburban Habitats (Moderate Intensity Developed)
    • Wetlands and Riparian Habitats

Targeted species:

  • 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

Actions

Project Actions
Plant native riparian, wetland or aquatic vegetation Show/Hide details
Improve the function of an existing wetland Show/Hide details
Remove litter and waste Show/Hide details
Plant native trees and/or shrubs, herbs, forbs, grasses Show/Hide details
Control invasive plants Show/Hide details
Remove litter and waste Show/Hide details
Land acquisition for conservation (fee simple, etc.) Show/Hide details

Assistance

Direct Funding
US Fish and Wildlife Service (Federal Government) Show/Hide details
City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) (Local Government) Show/Hide details
City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) (Local Government) Show/Hide details

Outcomes

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.

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Organization

City of Portland
(Local Government)

Primary Contact

Mart Hughes  (Natural Resource Ecologist)
Portland Parks and Recreation
Send email

Partners

  • Portland General Electric
  • Friends of Trees
  • City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services' (BES') Watershed Revegetation Program (WRP)
  • Friends of Errol Heights
  • City of Portland Parks and Recreation
  • SMILE
  • Johnson Creek Watershed Council
  • Brentwood-Darlington Community Policing Center
  • ROSE Community Development Corp
  • University of Oregon

Project Photos

3a__errol_creek_detail