Columbia Slough watershed is located in north and northeast Portland,
Gresham, Fairview, Wood Village, Maywood Park and unincorporated Multnomah
County south of the Columbia River. The watershed includes roughly 32,700
The Slough is the largest urban wetland in the U.S.A.
and includes the Smith and Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area. It is a refuge
for salmon as well as 25 other fish species. The Slough contains six
lakes, three ponds, 50 miles of waterway, and 30 miles of flood control
The Columbia Slough begins at Fairview Lake and meanders
west for 19 miles to Kelley Point Park where it empties into the Willamette
River. There are also about 30 miles of secondary waterways and other
major surface water features such as Fairview Creek, Fairview Lake,
and Smith and Bybee Lakes.
For more information visit the
Watershed Council Web site. The site has some excellent maps of
the area as well as information about recreation activities to include
canoe and kayak rental.
Historically, the Columbia Slough waterway was located
in the floodplain for the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Seasonally,
the Slough and Columbia River would flood forming new wetlands and channels.
To allow the watershed to be developed for agriculture, homes, and businesses,
miles of levees were constructed. The waterway was channelized and dozens
of streams were diverted from natural channels to underground pipes.
The Columbia Slough has had a long history of environmental
decline. But with the elimination of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs)
in 2000, watershed wide efforts to re-vegetate the Slough with native
plants, and the increasing awareness of businesses and residents, the
Slough is cleaner today than it has been in over 100 years.
Columbia River provides Portlanders with many recreation opportunities.
As an extension of the larger waterway, the Columbia Slough is no different.
The Slough is a greenway and recreational corridor as the rich ecological
habitats of the Columbia and the Slough provide opportunity for hours
of endless exploration. The Slough is known for its great canoeing and
kayaking passages, miles of walking paths through historic landscapes,
a multitude of mammals, and hundreds of species of birds and species.
It also is the home of six golf courses.