Crystal Springs Watershed
Salmon are Swimming Through Sellwood!
The Crystal Springs Watershed is a small area with huge potential. Located in the heart of Southeast Portland, Crystal Springs Creek is 2.7 miles long and the only major northern tributary to Johnson Creek. Nearly entirely spring fed, it boasts some of the coldest, cleanest, and most consistent water in the Portland area. These natural conditions—in addition to the creek's proximity to the Willamette River—create ideal conditions for native salmonid species (Coho, Chinook, and Steelhead). The presence of these majestic fish in an urban setting is incredibly unique and the impetus for the Crystal Springs Partnership's work.
An Informational Trip Down the Creek
The following sections provide information on different aspects of the Crystal Springs Watershed, starting at the headwaters and working down to the confluence with Johnson Creek.
Map courtesy of Reed College
Reed Canyon and Reed Lake are part of the headwaters of Crystal Springs. Several natural springs bubble up out of the ground hear, and these springs, along with a few others further downstream, feed the creek. Reed College has been undergoing restoration work on the canyon and lake since 1999, and has made huge progress removing invasive species, replanting natural flora, and improving fish passage. Salmon have been observed traversing this area, and Reed has set up underwater cameras to record their passage. Visit their website here.
Eastmoreland Golf Course
Crystal Springs Lake at the Eastmoreland Golf Course. © Eastmoreland Golf Course (2003)
This is a public golf course owned and managed by the City of Portland. Crystal Springs creates natural water features throughout the course. Located in and around the course are several of the natural springs that feed Crystal Springs. Some of the stream in this area have gravel bottoms - perfect for spawning salmon.
Crystal Springs Creek at Union Manor. The "pollinator garden" is on the island at center. Much of the channel here was choked with reed canary grass before restoration efforts in 2010-2011. McLaughlin Blvd. is at left, view to the south.
Union Manor is private property owned by the Union Labor Retirement Association (ULRA). Crystal Springs Creek flows through this property, and is currently in the process of being restored by the Friends of Crystal Springs and Crystal Springs Partnership. Invasive Reed Canary Grass is used to dominate this section of the creek, but volunteers are working hard to restore it and keep invasive species in check.
SE Glenwood St. / Fire Station / SE Bybee Blvd.
The upstream end of the new box culvert at SE Glenwood St. at the Union Manor Property.
At the downstream edge of the Union manor property the creek enters a box culvert beneath SE Glenwood St. This culvert was installed in 2017 to replace an undersized pipe that was deemed a barrier to fish passage (see Restoration page). It then passes Fire Station 20, beneath a bridge that services the fire station, and then through another new box culvert (also installed in 2017) that passes under SE Bybee Blvd. Both of these culverts considered barriers to fish passage and were replaced by the City of Portland in summer 2016, thanks to grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.
On its way to Johnson Creek, Crystal Springs Creek passes through Westmoreland Park, a 42-acre public park located in Sellwood-Moreland. With many amenities, the park is a large attraction and recreational resource for many people living in the Portland area. This section of the creek is has recently been subject to a major restoration project, creating a more natural habitat for native animal species. The duck pond was replaced in 2013-2014 with a meandering stream and an emergent wetland. The park reopened in June 2015. Two culverts just upstream are slated for replacement in summer 2016 to improve fish passage. The Westmoreland Park Master Plan can be viewed here.
To be continued...