Project Showcase – City of Portland, OR – Salmon Sanctuaries

Thank you to SWI Advisory Committee Member Amber Clayton from the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, Oregon for providing this article and linked information.

The video below, captured in fall 2014, shows salmon returning to Crystal Springs Creek to spawn for the first time in decades. Recent work in Crystal Springs removed barriers to fish access and improved the water quality of the stream. Nearly half the length of stream has been restored thanks to work by 20 partners.


Crystal Springs is an important tributary to Johnson Creek, which flows to the Willamette River. Its naturally cool and steady year-round flow provides ideal salmon and steelhead habitat.

The City of Portland OR is declaring its best salmon habitats as Salmon Sanctuaries. These locations represent the future success of salmon in the city and demonstrate that it is possible to create urban sanctuaries for these threatened species. Crystal Springs Creek is the first creek to earn this designation.

A Salmon Sanctuary can be achieved when the certain criteria, developed by scientists at Portland Environmental Services, are met. For meeting the definition of a Salmon Sanctuary, local stewardship groups will receive one-time grants to invest in continuing restoration in the watershed.

With continued investments by Environmental Services and partners, three more waters could achieve Salmon Sanctuary designation. These include Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Tryon Creek, and Miller Creek (in Forest Park).

The main webpage for the Crystal Springs Creek Restoration includes fact sheets, maps, and more info about the specific projects that led to success.

The City of Portland webpage, “Salmon Sanctuaries in Portland”provides more information on the Salmon Sanctuary program.

The Project Showcase is a new SWI feature. Each month it will highlight an innovative stormwater management or water quality improvement project conducted by SWI members. Contact Marlou Gregory to have a project considered.