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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

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The Return of Salmon

ReturnoftheCohoEvery fall, we watch and wait for the return of coho salmon to Crystal Springs Creek. Before development, before culverts, and before hatcheries, salmon came to Crystal Springs Creek by the thousands.  But over time their populations declined.  Only a few long-time locals, few knew that salmon once lived and thrived here.

Starting in 2000, Reed College began restoring the canyon at the headwaters of Crystal Springs Creek.  Environmental Services and partners removed or replaced nine culverts that blocked fish passage for juvenile salmon and trout along the length of this humble stream.  In 2014, Crystal Springs Creek in Westmoreland Park was transformed into a healthier place for salmon and people. 

On a cloudy, cool day in October 2014, a group of people who believe that Crystal Springs is an extraordinary urban waterway, gathered together to celebrate the return of salmon to Westmoreland Park.  

We waited for them to arrive…and they did.  On display for us all to see: a pair of coho salmon waiting for their time to spawn, despite the crowds, dancing through the stream.  While it was only three salmon, these are the seeds for future generations of salmon and for regional salmon recovery as a whole.

The Salmon Celebration comes a bit earlier in the salmon season this year, but if you look closely, you see other signs of a healthy watershed: native freshwater mussels, plentiful vegetation along the banks, and cold water. 

The fourth annual Salmon Celebration is set for Sunday, September 24th in Westmoreland Park to celebrate restoration of Crystal Springs, Portland’s first Salmon Sanctuary.  Salmon Sanctuaries are locations that support salmon populations and where a substantial investment in their habitat has been made.

Ronda Fast

Bureau of Environmental Services