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 PGE, an amphibian species classified as “sensitive” by the state of Oregon and a “species of concern” under Federal listing status. Additionally, the property is situated where the Willamette River meets Multnomah Channel – a perfect spot for juvenile salmon to rest and find food on their way to the Pacific Ocean.

By improving the wetlands and constructing side-channel habitat for fish, removing invasive species and planting native vegetation, PGE has transformed Harborton – a property we’ve owned for over 80 years – into a haven for wildlife.

A new channel connects the interior of the site to the Willamette River, providing habitat for juvenile fish on their way to the ocean.

After completing restoration activities in October 2020, consistent with a plan developed by the Portland Harbor Natural Resources Trustee Council, PGE began monitoring and maintaining the area. We monitor the presence of frogs and other notable species and continue to control for invasive plants in the project area. PGE will maintain the site for a decade after project completion, and the property will eventually be donated to a nonprofit for permanent protection. The site is closed to the public to help protect sensitive wildlife species and promote the growth of new plants.

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 and safely transported to Harborton across the dangerous road. Learn more about these frog champions on the Forest Park Conservancy website PGE.

Our restoration efforts include:

  • Construction of 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.

  • Placement of 80,000 native plants and ongoing invasive species management to restore and enhance the bottomland floodplain, lost over time to industrial development.

  • Preservation of attractive breeding and rearing habitat for northern red-legged frogs.

The prevalence of reed canarygrass was one of the biggest problems at Harborton. This invasive species takes over wetlands and pushes out native plants without providing any benefits to wildlife. During restoration, reed canarygrass was removed and replaced with native grasses and forbs.

Thousands of native plants have been installed to replace invasive species that dominated the site prior to restoration. PGE also placed woody debris and rock piles to make the site more attractive to native birds, mammals and other species.

Before & After

Check out a bird's-eye view rendering PGE of the site before and after restoration.