Lents open house highlights Johnson Creek changes

Neighbors confess they feel a mixture of relief and concern about the changes being charted for wetlands surrounding the creek …

Lents neighbor Chris Bodine is about ready to mark the location of his property with a push pin, as he talks with Marie Johnson, BES, Program Coordinator Johnson Creek Watershed program

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Most of the people coming to the Johnson Creek Wetlands open house at Lent Elementary School a few weeks ago were neighbors whose property abuts the proposed work sites.

East Lents Project
“We’re here to let folks know about the East Lents Project,” says Marie Johnson, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Program Coordinator Johnson Creek Watershed program. “This project will be adding flood storage and making habitat improvement south of Foster Road, between what was known as ‘Freeway Land’ property and the Brookside property that BES renovated several years ago.”

The project, Johnson tells us, will make Lents a better place to live and work. “For many years, flooding has been a problem in Lents. The East Lents project will be adding flood storage near SE Foster Road.”

A FEMA grant for $2.7 Million will fund the first phase of the project, Johnson says; and BES is kicking in almost another $1 Million to make that happen. This project is currently in its design phase.

“In addition to providing flood storage,” adds Johnson, “it will be a nicer place for the community. Having some of the flooding issues addressed makes it easier for businesses to invest in the community.”

Lents neighbor Chris Bodine tells us he came to the open house to find out what is happening to the property adjacent to his.

“I’ve been watching them buy up houses around the area and remove some of them. It is all getting overgrown with blackberries. With a lot of homeless and transient coming in and camping in the area, I’d like to see it cleaned up,” says Bodine.

Lents resident Chuck Olney talks with Jeremy Weber, Project Manager, Army Corps of Engineers, about the Johnson Creek Springwater Project, as does neighbor Tom Larson.

Army Corps’ Springwater Project
We also learn the Army Corps of Engineers is working on a project to improve the habitat all along the Springwater Corridor, between Begger’s Tick Marsh and Banger Park.

“It’s important, because it will improve habitat for wildlife,” is how Jeremy Weber, Project Manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, Johnson Creek Springwater Project, put it to us.

Weber adds, “It will give neighbors access off the Springwater Trail. It will open up a lot of things to see; it will be educational for the kids. About a third of what we do these days is environmental work. This is under our Section 206 Authority, which is aquatic ecosystem restoration.

The project that runs from SE 111th to 121st Avenue along the Springwater Trail Corridor in Lents is a shared effort between the federal government and the City of Portland’s BES.

“Currently we’re working on the feasibility study to be completed this year,” says Weber. “Construction will begin when we get federal funding.”

The object of this project is to allow more water to flow into the wetland property. “There was a lot of fill in this area,” explains Weber. “We’ll be removing a lot of that. Also, look for improvements to the area like more interpretative signage, and a parking lot to access the Springwater Trail.”

Privacy concerns
Neighbor Tom Larson says his concerns are security and loss of privacy.

“Also, I want to know when it will start. My property is adjacent to this project. I know the area on one side and behind me was designated wetland owned by City of Portland; so no one can build there.

“It will be a great project as long as they take seriously privacy and security issues ‚Äì I don’t want people who are wandering through the area to wander into my yard.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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