CAG General Meeting May 12, 2021

CAG Board Members

Michael Pouncil, Chair

Doug Larson

Sarah Taylor


Scott Burr, Tech Advisor

Caleb Shaffer, EPA Superfund Project Manager


Number of Participants: 43


Sarah Taylor

Introductions. Welcome and thanks for joining us tonight. We extend an invitation for more people to join our Steering Committee. We are planning a Summer Soiree (Covid permitting), a garden fundraiser.


We remember that we are resting on a traditional village site of many Native tribes who made their homes along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers for the last 11,000 years. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all indigenous people. We also acknowledge the systemic genocide and relocation that have impacted indigenous people.


*** *** *** ***

Guest Speakers

Laura Knudsen (EPA Community Involvement Coordinator)

Annie Kilburg Smith (Director/Facilitator/Mediator, Triangle Associates)

Lucila Gambino (Project Associate, Triangle Associates)

Jessica Terlikowski (Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland)

Laura, Annie and Lucila provided an overview of EPA’s draft Portland Harbor Story Map that was developed from EPA’s Portland Harbor Community Involvement Plan. They also facilitated an informal feedback session on the draft Portland Harbor Story Map, with a focus on input from community members.


Laura Knudsen

The Portland Harbor Story Map was identified in the Community Involvement Plan in 2017 as something that people were interested in based on needs-assessment. A living tool that can change and update.


Annie Kilburg Smith and Lucila Gambino, Triangle Associates

Working with Portland Harbor Collaborative Group and EPA to develop The Story Map. They have coordinated with federal agencies, tribes and the City of Portland. Looking tonight for feedback.


Map Website Chapters:

  • Tribal History; 2) River History; 3) Superfund Site; 4) Tribal Involvement; 5) Cleanup Areas; 6) Environmental Justice; 7) Local Stories; 8) Get Involved; 9) Contact Us.

The Map displays informational text, photos, interactive maps and recordings for each chapter. The goal is to publish The Story Map July-August 2021.


General Feedback, Comments from Participants on the introductory presentation:

*Happy about the ability to change, edit, update this instrument.

*On the interactive map, you might include as many historical photos about the bank of the river to give more of a sense of how the river came to be polluted.

*How can this capture the health risks that exists now, how long they have been a risk, and how long they are anticipated to be a risk into the future?

*One chapter that is very important and missing is the wildlife – old and new: falcons, salmon, mink… I’ll bet the Audubon society has great photos and someone was talking about the red legged frog migration = great story.

*Are there any links to site documents from the interactive map?

*I agree that mention of the rich wildlife history is important, especially the three endangered species: salmon, steelhead and lamprey eel.

*That totally aligns with what we heard from community workshops on the information management plan to Alex.


Breakout Groups, 45 minutes

General Feedback Section

Q: I grew up in Vancouver, in those days there was no history about black culture in Oregon or Washington. The Vanport Flood created a diaspora as black residents moved from one neighborhood to another. If there’s money in the budget to record older people about what this was like for them.

A: Do you have someone in mind? Comment: could contact NAACP? Donovan Smith?

Q: A great resource of the Vanport Flood and its impact on the black community is the Vanport Mosaic. They have annual celebrations, commemorations. There are at least a dozen people still alive, giving interviews.

Q: The Mosaic project is a great resource. Also, the City of Portland featured artwork and portraiture from the Vanport residents. They included Native folks who had lived there, worked in the shipyard. The City’s grant program is making funds available to do work to contribute to The Story Map.


Comment: This is beautiful.


Local Stories Section

Q: any thought to how to transition from one story to another during meetings?

A: We will record some of those meetings when we can.

Q: Is it limited to gathering stories just in that space or can community led stories also end up here?

A: Yes. And we welcome more stories.

Q: What about workers on the river and their stories?

A: Great idea, may I connect with you and follow up?

Q: I worked on the river for 3 summers and I have a horrendous story, do you want it? A lead smelting plant was polluting lead into the air, throwing battery acid into the river. They no longer have that operation in the US, only in Mexico now. Working conditions were also bad, had to have our blood tested every week to check for lead.

A: Yes, let’s include it, a great story to tell, I’ll reach out to you.

Q: Some stories from a local resident who grew up near the Toyota facility, kids used to fish for salmon there, 50-60 years ago. Doug will ask him about this.

Q: Impact of WW2, ship building that occurred, is there a female ship builder who can talk about this? Closely tied to contamination of the river.

A: There are a lot of those people. Vanport residents who were children then.


Interactive Map of Cleanup Areas Section

Q: In the storyline there is Contact Us, how to get involved. It might also be helpful to have a hot-link to this in the interactive map. If you’re thinking about permitting information, Portland Maps has that information.

Q: There will have to be management plans, can these be available in the interactive map at some point?

A: The city and state have approached EPA – we need to know where these institutional controls are. Deed restrictions on properties? We’re trying to figure out a better way.

Q: Making sure that boundaries are accurate on the map, adding chemical concerns and methods proposed for cleanup, adding hot-links to the map on how to get involved. Discussion about the map reflect updated information on remedial action and reflect institutional control information. Is this the tool that will be as nimble as we need it to be for future updating? Unsure at this point.

Q: Re Portland Maps – a hot link to this for specific properties would give information quickly. Current owners, permitting history. Useful to have this available in one place.

A: Add a definition of Upland.


*** *** *** ***


Jessica Terlikowski

Community grants program to support meaningful community support of the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup. Focusing resources in supporting leadership for people of color. Building community capacity in issues related to Portland Harbor. Fostering greater community/city collaboration. Feedback over our first year requests making funding more flexible with more categories. Awards will range from $5000 to $50,000. Application is available online, due next Friday. A review committee will select applicants to participate in a zoom interview to provide details of their project. Applications can also be focused on youth development, career paths in environmental work.


Q&A for Jessica Terlikowski

Q: Can I pay young people to work within this grant?

A: Yes. Depends on what the work is.

Doug Larson

This grant program reinforces what EPA and Triangle have been talking about this evening. Monies area available to support the bigger project. What we’ve heard tonight is important. We have to get a younger generation interested in the cleanup process. Thank you everyone.


*** *** *** ***

Up-coming events

Interview with author Jeff Wiltse about his book
“Contested Waters” A social History of Swimming Pools in America.

Join us for a fascinating, under-the-surface view of racism, sexism, and social upheaval in America. Author and history professor Jeff Wiltse will read from his book, “Contested Waters – A Social History of Swimming Pools in America”, a deep dive into the history of public swimming and how it has impacted racial, gender, and social issues for over a century. Professor Wiltse Personal History and NPR Interview.

Sunday, June 6, 2021 AT 6:00 PM PDT –
Zoom Weblink :
Meeting ID: 536 978 0765
One tap mobile
+16699006833,,5369780765# US (San Jose)
+12532158782,,5369780765# US (Tacoma)
Hosted by: Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group, Human Access Project.


*** *** *** ***

News on the River
Willamette River lovers coming together to make a difference at Cathedral Park Beach. Volunteers removed more that 12 tons of concrete and unsightly rubble from the beach. There will be other opportunities for join in and make a BIG difference at Cathedral Park
See the the KGW News segment here.

Remember, we have a “New” Portland Harbor CAG YouTube page. “Subscribe here” and at the bottom of the email. Now you have access to our monthly virtual meetings, forums, and presentations.

And we persevere, persist, continue,
carry-on, going to keep-on, not give up, struggle-on, hammer away,
be persistent, be determined, press-on ahead.

*** *** *** ***

Contact: Michael Pouncil at 503.705.7224,

Portland Harbor CAG
Portland Harbor CAG YouTube

Notes taken by Jane Terzis