Matt Clark, executive director of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, can see the light at the end of the tunnel, as the in-stream and side-channel salmon habitat project in Johnson Creek at the Tacoma MAX station is taking shape

“It’s very exciting to see this first phase coming to fruition. It’s been a long road since our community design charettes in the summer of 2010,” he said.

by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF ESA VIGIL-AGRIMIS - TriMet is working with contractors to restore habitat and bring more attention to conservation issues along Johnson Creek as it builds light rail from Portland to Oak Grove.East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Oregon Wildlife, PGE Habitat Support Fund and Soil Solutions partnered with the watershed council in the restoration project, Clark said.

He also noted that after a lot of community input, the interpretive panel design for the Johnson Creek boardwalk is finished.

But, he emphasized, the watershed council has about five months left to raise its portion of the construction costs for the boardwalk.

Clark is asking that people make a donation to the project, and, in return, donors can have a name of their choice engraved in the boardwalk handrail.

“Our goal is at least 100 private individual and local business donors supporting the project,” he said.

Interpretive boardwalk

The 150-foot boardwalk will be just north of the Tacoma Street/Johnson Creek MAX station. Accessed from the station platform, it will lead over a bioswale/rain garden that treats stormwater runoff from the station area.

It will end at a platform next to Johnson Creek where people can see recently constructed salmon habitat, including logs and boulders installed in the creek channel and an excavated side channel that provides refuge areas for fish when the creek is running high in the winter, Clark said.

Five interpretive panels installed on the boardwalk depict topics ranging from Native American and early European settler history to industrialization to current habitat restoration efforts. The panels celebrate Johnson Creek’s ecological recovery and highlight the central role the creek has played, and continues to play, in Southeast Portland’s history and development.

Recognition that lasts

“We wanted the boardwalk to have a slightly curved alignment to lend a sense of discovery and mystery. In other words, we didn’t want people to be able to see the boardwalk’s end from the starting point. We wanted the handrail to be semi-transparent so that people, especially kids, would see the native streamside forest and creek habitat through the railing,” Clark said.

“Above all, we want the boardwalk to look nice so that it’s a place where people want to spend time,” he added.

Calling the boardwalk project a “snapshot of a community coming together around Johnson Creek,” Clark noted that financial support is needed to make the boardwalk happen.

“By making a donation of $100 or more, families, local businesses, community groups can have their names engraved on the boardwalk handrail and be memorialized as having helped make the project happen. It’s like the Pioneer Square bricks, and it’s a cool gift to give, especially to a child.

“What could be more exciting for a kid than to have your name engraved on something that hundreds, if not thousands, of people will see every year,” Clark said.

Boardwalk construction will begin mid-February 2014 and will be finished by July 1, 2014. In order to be included with a name engraving on the donor handrail, Johnson Creek Watershed Council needs to receive contributions by Jan. 21.

On the boardwalk

For more information about the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, visit

To make a donation to the boardwalk project, visit

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