Harborton Habitat Restoration

Restoring wetland habitat for wildlife along the Willamette River

Harborton is a 74-acre PGE property located along the Willamette River in Northwest Portland’s industrial corridor. The site includes both wetlands and a PGE substation, and is a prime location for restoring wildlife habitat within the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

The site is one of the largest known breeding grounds for northern red-legged frogs, an amphibian species classified as “sensitive” by the state of Oregon. Additionally, the Harborton wetlands are situated where the Willamette River meets Multnomah Channel – a perfect spot for juvenile salmon to rest and grow on their way to the Pacific Ocean.

By constructing side-channel habitat for fish, removing invasive species and planting native vegetation, PGE plans to transform Harborton – property we’ve owned for 80 years – into a haven for wildlife. This restoration work began in June 2020. PGE will monitor and maintain the site for a decade after restoration is complete, then donate the property to a land trust for ongoing protection.

Northern red-legged frog
Each year, northern red-legged frogs migrate from the hills of Forest Park to the attractive breeding grounds in the Harborton wetlands. To reach Harborton, the frogs must cross busy Highway 30. With the help of volunteers, the frogs are collected, placed in buckets and safely transported to Harborton across the dangerous road. Learn more about these frog champions on the Forest Park Conservancy website.

Our restoration efforts include:

  • Constructing a channel that connects the interior of the site to the Willamette River, providing rearing habitat for out-migrating juvenile salmonids and Pacific lamprey, both listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Placing 80,000 native plants and managing invasive species to restore and enhance the bottomland floodplain that was lost over time to industrial development.
  • Preserving attractive breeding and rearing habitat for northern red-legged frogs.

Reed canarygrass
The prevalence of reed canarygrass is one of the biggest problems at Harborton because this invasive species takes over wetlands, pushing out other native plants without providing any benefits to wildlife. We plan to remove as much reed canarygrass as possible during restoration.