CAG Board Members
Michael Pouncil, Chair
This meeting has been recorded and took place virtually and on location at the Green Anchors Industrial Park office.
Sarah Taylor: Land Acknowledgement (summary): The Portland Metro area rests on traditional Native sites. We thank the original caretakers of this land, acknowledge the systemic racism involved in the cleanup of the Willamette River. Tribes will heal only when we understand the harms done and we promise to continue to learn and to honor, respect and take care of this watershed, all that it offers to all living beings.
Sarah – We’re in the new PHCAG office at Green Anchors. Welcome.
This evening, we gave thanks, honored, celebrated and learned from the people who led the early days of the superfund clean-up in the Portland Harbor. These are community members that have transitioned out (But Still Deeply Involved) with Portland Harbor, “Trail Blazers of Portland’s Superfund”. They shared their story of connection and work on the Lower Willamette River as we move forward into 2023 for a cleaner river.
Michael: Welcome. This is our first in-person PHCAG meeting.
Upcoming Events and News on the River
Guild’s Lake Tour Friday, January 27th at 10:00 am. Join us for a tour of this important ecological, historical, and economic community. Discover the lake beneath our streets and the many stories of this place- from a 400-acre lake to a10,000-person community to Industrial Sanctuary and CEI Hub. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Voices of the Lower Willamette exhibit is currently at the Lloyd center. Despite floods and broken water pipes, the exhibit survived and is now at its new location at Lloyd Center in the former Ann Taylor Loft location. This is on the second-floor south-west of the ice-skating rink. The exhibit looks wonderful there and many people are stopping to learn about the area. We are able to host educational experiences in the store, which is a great opportunity. You can visit the exhibit while supporting Lloyd Center’s many small businesses. It’s a great place to walk on rainy days! Open: the hours of the Lloyd Center Mall. The exhibit is on the main floor of Lloyd Center Mall across from the “closed” Made In Oregon store and Its inside the “former” Anne Taylor’s Loft store.
Dance at Lloyd Center on January 13.
Rumble on the River Community Forum 4
Tuesday, January 17
Door & Info Tables: 6pm Panel: 6:30.
Focus: the CEI Hub and Zenith on the west side of the Willamette River.
825 NW 18th Avenue
Coffee Chat with Laura Knudson Friday January 27, 12 – 1pm
or phone/text (206-643-4299)
Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director for Portland Audubon
Melanie Plaut, M.D., Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Barbara Bernstein, Host of KBOO Radio’s Locus Focus and Audio Documentarian
Jay Wilson, Past Chair, Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission and Former Resilience Fellow, national Institute for Standards and Technology
Josie Moberg, Climate Justice Legal Fellow at Breach Collective
Moderator: Michael Pouncil, Current Chair of the Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group
More info: 503-705-1943
Honorees, “Trail Blazers of Portland’s Superfund”
Travis Williams, Executive Director at Willamette Riverkeeper
Jim Robison, Business Manager at Forward Support.
Katy Weil, Senior Natural Resource Scientist at Metro.
Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director for Portland Audubon
I started with Riverkeeper in 2000. I’ve been connected to the river since childhood. The Riverkeeper works on a host of issues – habitat restoration, aquatic invasives, legislative issues, cleanups. Riverkeeper owns several properties along the Willamette. We were documenting toxics in the river before 2000. Once the federal designation occurred, there was optimism that the cleanup could happen quickly. We worked with EPA along with CAG in meetings at St Johns Community Center around early 2001. We published “Know the Cancer Risk from Eating Willamette River Fish” brochure in several languages. We published “A Citizen’s Guide to The Willamette River Portland Harbor Cleanup” in 2002. We expected that the cleanup would happen by 2010, seemed reasonable at the time. PRP’s have filed many challenges over the years. Persistence with CAG has made a difference, trying to engage membership and general public. By 2024 we expect to begin to see contaminates removed from the river.
Q: Did you have an expectation at the beginning of the process, did you expect this to take this long?
A: No. We expected this to happen much more quickly, even with the knowledge that this is complex issue with a lot of parties involved. Region 10 kept the process moving.
Q: At a meeting, someone said that initially there was a push in Salem to not list this as a superfund site.
A: That’s correct. There was an effort for the state of Oregon to run the whole thing.
Q: The first meeting – who called it, who was there, what went on?
A: Don’t remember details, we had several community members, Sierra Club member, EPA. We looked at what we should be working on, how to proceed. We got a technical assistance grant soon after that meeting, with help from a toxicologist to explain the hazards.
Q: Anyone present tonight who was at that meeting?
A: Yes, Tom Chisholm and Jim Robison, Barbara Smith.
Q: I’m with the Yakima Tribe, working with the Trustee Council. How can we (tribes, government, groups), work together to put more of a focus on habitat in the harbor? We hear about toxicity reduction, not much about habitat. We’re worried that the cleanups will leave caps that will prevent habitat improvement from getting off the ground.
A: That’s a great question. We need to talk more about this.
Has kept in touch with CAG and the Portland Harbor Community Coalition. I bought my house in the University Park neighborhood and I could smell McCormick & Baxter. When those owners sold, the odors reduced and property values increased. I got involved with the North Portland Odor Abatement Committee and I had some involvement then with the Portland Harbor Superfund. I came to the first informational meeting that became the CAG. Judy Smith was extremely helpful in those first few years. We moved the meetings to St Johns, the location of the superfund site. I was often the only person who was not paid to be at the meetings. Part of my effort was to try to involve volunteers. When the Portland Harbor Community Coalition organized there was confusion about the difference in focus than CAG. CAG is focused on technical issues, the Coalition was focused more on other issues. Both orgs started working together.
Q: When were the tribes first included in the early formation of CAG and the superfund cleanup? How were they brought in?
A: CAG is based on the community around the superfund, so the tribes might not have been involved immediately. The restoration work has involved the tribes. Yakima nation has not been part of CAG but they’ve been one of our best partners, particularly in fisheries. Grand Ronde Nation was involved with CAG for a number of years, were very helpful and made a decision at some point to focus elsewhere.
Q: Any involvement from Sauvie Island?
A: We did have one CAG member who owned land on Sauvie, who was very involved for a number of years. Also involvement from Sauvie Island Grange at one point and several other island landowners. We determined that most of the Sauvie Island wells get water from the Columbia River or from the West Hills, from deep underground, not from the Willamette.
I chaired CAG in 2008. Our mission now, at Metro, is acquiring natural areas and restoring, protecting them. I’ll be leaving my job next week and will continue as a volunteer. We’re just getting started, 20 years into this. There’s a lot of potential for habitat issues. In the earlier days I worked at the Audubon Care Center. We’re hiring a Master Planner to identify the vision for this place. Metro is actively taking on more of a role toward the cleanup. We’ve hired a new program advisor, Alison Clements.
ob posting for the Willamette Cove Senior Parks Planner: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/oregonmetro/jobs/3843029/willamette-cove-senior-parks-planner?page=3&pagetype=jobOpportunitiesJobs
Audubon has a long history with this stretch of the river. I think about Travis Williams, Jim Robison and others who led this for the last 20 years. An arduous battle but we’ve made progress. There was a time when people wrote off urban environments regarding habitat as a waste of money. We had the entire Metro region surveyed and mapped for habitat. Peregrine falcons were endangered – there was a push to relocate them, instead we made a case to make sure they could be safe where they are. Most of the PRP’s have done everything possible, over the years, to stall the cleanup process. I became more actively involved when Travis talked me into taking more of a leadership role. The group of concerned people has grown. Equity, health for people and wildlife. We have a huge challenge in front of us, there will be efforts to minimize restoration. The City of Portland is critical in this puzzle. The Bureau of Environmental Services has been instrumental but they’re being dismantled. We need to make sure that the agencies we need to depend on will continue to receive funding. The city does not have an environmental leader. I’m leaving Audubon in 19 days but I’ll still be close by.
Q: I’ve heard comments for the last three years – when I see you you’re very engaged with what you’re doing. What do we need to do to keep your kind of talent involved?
A: That’s for the next generation to figure out. There’s a lot of continuity in Portland, which helps nurture another generation.
Comment: We can’t let this go without hearing Barbara Smith’s recollections.
Comment: Travis and the CAG made a huge impact on the Lower Willamette Group and helped make the RI/FS process better. Thank you
Comments: Thank you, Jim for the work you’ve done. A shout out to Jackie, Tom, Robin, and the many others who showed up for years “without pay”. Thank you from YNF, Jim. It’s been a team of many carrying the weight at different times. Thanks for your leadership!
Comment: One thing I immediately liked at CAG was that it was open to all community members. We come from different perspectives but we stay glued together.
Comment: Site Conservation Plan was completed in July.
Comment: Thank you so much Travis, Jim, Katy, and Bob! I am so grateful for all of you and your passion & work
Comment: City of Portland, Metro and Lloyd Center have been helping us tremendously. Things come together in ways that we never would have imagined.
Comment: I found CAG minutes from 2004, EPA website. If you’re looking for more history, you can find it here: https://semspub.epa.gov/work/10/100018078.pdf
Contact: Michael Pouncil at 503.705.7224, email@example.com
Portland Harbor CAG
Our mailing address is:
Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group
8316 N. Lombard St., PMB #344
Portland, OR 97203
Notes taken by Jane Terzis