Creating A Healthy Willamette River

image imageOne of the primary tasks for the Institute over the past several years has been bringing a portion of Ross Island into public ownership. One of our most significant achievements, after many months of meeting with Ross Island Sand and Gravel, the Mayor's office, and Portland Parks and Recreation, was reaching an agreement with Dr. Robert Pamplin, Jr. that led to 45 acres of Ross Island being donated to the city on October 31, 2007.

Ross Island Vision Team: Envisioning Ross Island

The Institute has produced, with its partners at the Willamette Riverkeeper, Audubon Society of Portland, GreenWorks landscape architecture, and other architects and landscape architects, a plan for Ross Island: Envisioning Ross Island (PDF file), which lays out scenarios for how Ross and its sister islands Hardtack, East and Toe might be managed as a unit with the Holgate Channel and the 160-acre, city-owned Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge as an urban wildlife refuge complex, public natural area, park and place to contemplate nature in the heart of downtown Portland.

No Wake Zone for Holgate Channel

Ross IslandAnother significant accomplishment came through The Ross Island Vision Team's collaboation with local rowing clubs, the dragon boat community, kayakers and canoeists to extablish a slow/no-wake zone for the Ross Island Lagoon and the Holgate Channel from the mouth of the lagoon upstream to the Oregon Yacht Club. The Vision Team will be monitoring the slow/no-wake zone to determine if it should be extended to the downstream tip of Ross Island in the future. All motorized craft must go no faster than 5 miles per hour in a slow/no wake zone. 

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Portland Memorial Mausoleum Mural

In 1991 Mike Houck worked with ArtFX Murals, Portland-based professional muralists, to apply a 70-foot-by-50-foot great blue heron mural to one of the west-facing walls of the Portland Memorial Mausoleum, which overlooks Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. The original 17-inch-by-20-inch watercolor by local artist Lynn Kitagawa was transferred to the wall by ArtFX painters, thereby beautifying one of the building's walls closest to the Bottoms.

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Belted Kingfisher

Seventeen years later, the Institute, again working with ArtFX Murals, plans to expand the existing 3,500-square foot great blue heron to an almost 50,000-square-foot wetland motif with great egrets, more great blue herons, waterfowl, belted kingfishers and other denizens one might see on an outing to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Funding for the mural comes from Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Willamette Fun(d) of the Oregon Community Foundation. The paint is being donated by Miller Paint Company. ArtFX is donating most of the labor.

The Institute is collaborating with TrackersNW, a local environmental education nonprofit, to provide art and natural history field tours and art classes to Lewellyn Elementary, Grant High School and Cleveland High School. The mural is slated to be finished in mid-November of this year.

Portland Memorial Mausoleum

imageWild on the Willamette

Wild on the Willamette, a joint production of the Urban Greenspaces Institute and the Audubon society Portland, explores the bicycle and pedestrian trails, kayak and canoe access points, and natural history highlights of the lower 35-mile reach of the Willamette River between the Canby Ferry and the rivers confluence with the Columbia at Kelley Point Park. The map was produced using PolyArt, a rip-resistant, waterproof paper. The map was patterned after Metro's BikeThere! map of the Portland Metropolitan region's bicycle trail system.

Wild on the Willamette has garnered numerous graphic design awards recognizing the contributions of graphic designer Laurie Causgrove, of Laurie Causgrove Graphic Design, and artist Marla Bagetta. The map can be purchased through the Audubon Society of Portland's Nature Store.