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.

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

Restoration activities began in June 2020, with most of the work finished before the end of the year. PGE will monitor and maintain the area 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, placed in buckets 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:

  • 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.

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 grass seed.

Learn more about the project from PGE wetland ecologist Colin MacLaren.

Before & After

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