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Westmoreland wetland project stalled

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) Senior Program Manager, Fish and Wildlife Division, Kaitlin Lovell says her Bureau couldnt be happier with the project, so far.We’ve been following this project month-by-month in THE BEE – but right now, it’s obvious that very little work has been taking place in Westmoreland Park behind the construction fences for the last month.

In mid-January, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) Senior Program Manager, Fish and Wildlife Division Kaitlin Lovell came out for a look, and to talk with THE BEE.

Lovell made it official: “The project has been delayed. The conditions are such that we would not get the best outcome, both for the fish and for the community. The partners have agreed to delay the project allow the contractor to work as the conditions allow.”

A contractor was installing irrigation system piping during our visit. “We need to do some grading, and then put the plants in. We are still using some heavy equipment and doing some digging, so we need the ground to be just right and settled just right, and we don’t want to leave depressions everywhere,” Lovell said.

“This is the risk that we run working in outdoor project. We were glad to be able to work out an arrangement that gives us the best project, at the end.”

However, as manager of the BES Fish and Wildlife Division, Lovell added, “We couldn't be happier with the stream restoration. We are just thrilled with how this is turning out.

“By taking out the pond, we already have seen the stream temperature drop by about 4°,” enthused Lovell. “We’re seeing wildlife we have not seen before.”

And, it’s not only because of the Westmoreland Park project, she added. “Restoring close to a natural stream with the Tacoma Street culvert project and the others like it, a larger benefit comes from the synergy of the projects together that makes this so exciting.”

In addition to native fish, they’ve also found more than 700 native mussels in Crystal Springs Creek. “It's the only area in the city where we have a fairly healthy population of native mussels across all age groups. They attach to their gills and use the salmon as their dispersal mechanism. Knowing the potential of the system, all the pieces are here for this to be a very healthy and robust ecosystem, a gem in the city.”

Asked about the new expected date of completion, Lovell predicted, “We're hoping to have this all over and complete for the Milk Carton Boat Races in June. Again, the standing water you’re seeing here is a sign that we’ve created a good wetland – which means the contractors will work as ground conditions allow.”