Johnson Creek Floodplain Restoration celebrated in Lents

Here’s why so many bicyclists were seen in outer East Portland with fish-decorated helmets on a sunny Sunday, not long ago …

Vehicle traffic backs up along SE Foster Road, from SE 104th Avenue west to I-205 to accommodate participants in the outer East Portland “Sunday Parkways” event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A little more than a year ago, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) invited stakeholders and contractors to celebrate completion of Phase One of the Johnson Creek Floodplain Restoration Project along SE Foster Road.

> To read about this event, CLICK HERE.

BES Johnson Creek Watershed Manager Maggie Skenderian invites bicyclists to their “Johnson Creek Celebration”.

On October 30, the public – mostly on bicycles, because there was no vehicle parking available – was invited to see the stream contouring and tree planting at the restoration site as part of “Sunday Parkways”.

“We are celebrating the near completion of the Johnson Creek Floodplain Restoration Project,” welcomed BES Johnson Creek Watershed Manager Maggie Skenderian at the site near what once was SE 104th Avenue, near the Springwater Trail crossing at SE Foster Road.

Hundreds of visitors at a time stop by, to take part in the “Johnson Creek Celebration”.

Anne Savery and Clyde Savery get their “fish hats” from Marie Walkiewicz of the Bureau of Environmental Services.

“This is a project we’ve been working on for about 15 years. We are creating floodwater storage so that Johnson Creek floods a little else frequently out onto SE Foster Road.”

Instead of seeing Johnson Creek flood every other year, this project will reduce SE Foster Road flooding to once every six to eight years, Skenderian told East Portland News.

Last year, the system worked very well, she added. The January 19th storm would’ve normally inundated SE Foster Road, but water this time stayed off the roadway.

Visitors check out the new foot bridge spanning Johnson Creek …

… and take in the view, here looking east.

“The USGS Sycamore Stream Gauge has been collecting data at SE 159th Avenue and Foster Road for about 40 years,” mentioned Skenderian. “When water rose to 11 feet at Sycamore gauge, it was clear that Foster Road would flood. But back in January, the Sycamore gauge was 13.2 feet, I believe, and Foster Road still stayed clear.  It is definitely a game-changer.”

Lents business people and residents will most likely praise the impact of the project when the rains set in this season.

But, for most folks passing though, this particular celebration was a family-friendly event, with loads of activities that highlighted the natural wonders of Johnson Creek, Portland’s only free-flowing, salmon-bearing stream.

Johnson Creek Watershed Council volunteer Nancy Robrecht tells fish tales – inside of this giant fish’s tail!

Avery Bryson looks like she’s enjoying “fishing” for prizes.

It wasn’t only the youngsters that made and wore “fishy helmet hats” – most adults leaving the area also sported fish-themed hats on their heads. “We’ve giving away hundreds of them,” beamed Skenderian.

Families ran an obstacle course, “fished” for prize, and saw the Audubon Society’s Birds of Prey, while tapping their toes to live music and noshing on snacks.

“We’ll be done with Phase Two of this project in early November,” Skenderian said.

This band, Worn Out Shoes, provides festive folk tunes that entertain those at the celebration.

To learn more about the East Lents Flood Restoration Project, CLICK HERE to see the Portland BES website.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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