CAG Board Members

Michael Pouncil, Chair

Doug Larson

Sarah Taylor


Participants: 35


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.



Tonight’s PHCAG welcomed an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Fish Biologist Mac Barr. Mr. Barr talked about the Willamette River salmonoid’s life cycle and resiliency in the lower Willamette/Portland harbor Superfund site.


Mac Barr is a Supervisory District Fisheries Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).  He currently serves t­he North Willamette Watershed Coast Range district and is based out of Clackamas, Oregon.  Mac has a master’s degree in Marine Fisheries Management from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bowdoin College.  He has worked for ODFW for over 13 years.  Until recently moving into the district biologist role, Mac studied fish predation on the Columbia and Snake Rivers as the research project leader for the Bonneville Power Administration funded Northern Pikeminnow Management Program.  


Mac Barr:

Salmonids and the Portland Harbor. The category Salmonid includes salmon, char, greyling, various trout species (steelhead, cutthroat).

Biology: Fish spawn in freshwater streams. Eggs hatch in 1-3 months. Fry emerge in spring or summer. Juvenile fish can be in fresh water up to 4 years. Smolt migrate to ocean in spring/early summer, spend 1-4 years in ocean. Then they return to their natal stream to spawn.

Habitat needs: cool, clear, clean water; complex habitat; diverse habitat; unrestricted access to spawning and rearing habitat.

Issues: Urbanization/development; warm, dirty water; homogenous habitat; invasive species; passage barriers.

Portland Harbor Restoration Banks – some have been completed with funds from PRP credits.


Q&A for Mac Barr


Q: Do salmonids overwinter in the area?

A: They move pretty quickly through Portland Harbor. The Willamette is not really a spawning area for these fish. If more restoration is completed, that might change. Not enough side-channel habitat for them to rest or spawn here for very long.


Q: A rest for a few hours must be different than a winter’s rest, how?

A: The longer a fish is in residence, it’s more likely to accumulate toxins. Migratory fish, salmonids, usually have lower levels of toxins. But is the habitat here suitable for them to over-winter?


Q: Is there a schedule for arrival, rest, departure and return?

A: Not really, but they generally move upstream in the fall, downstream in the spring, with some variables. Portland Harbor has a salmonid presence year-round.


Q: What kind of habitat spacing might we need in Portland Harbor in order to provide a series of stepping stones or string of pearls for migrating species?

A: There isn’t a set distance, any number of pearls you can provide will be great. Marginal gains can provide a big uplift.


Q: Outside of the NRD restoration banks, what other restoration work does ODFW and other salmon recovery agencies and groups have planned for the lower Willamette, particularly after cleanup occurs? Where can we access these plans?

A: I’d defer that question to Becky, who is more involved with restoration projects.


Q: How do the very old rotting pilings/old docks on Willamette impact the fish?

A: In general, unnatural habitat should be removed. Some of this includes treated wood, leaking out into the watershed. Bricks can also contain toxins.


Q: Is there a funding mechanism, OWEB? for groups doing restoration in the lower Willamette?

A: Oregon Watershed is the primary. Restoration Act also.


Q: We say it’s for the salmon but what does that mean?

A: Economic benefits, critical species in the watershed, benefits to other native fish.


Q: How does a lower quantity of salmon impact the forest ecosystem?

A: Less nutrients for the system as a whole. May result in different plant communities. Less nutrients for scavengers. Restoration projects will help mitigate.


Q: What types of human-made habitat improve salmonid resilience?

A: Removal of barriers. Access to other places when the present place is inhospitable. Plant a tree. Removal of non-native and invasive plants.


Q: Would a strong salmon run (and die off) contribute to an unhealthy algae bloom?

A: I don’t think so, no.


Q: What is the future trajectory for salmonids and their habitats given looming climate chaos?

A: The trajectory isn’t great. Ocean conditions play a big role in numbers of returning fish. Unnatural flows, upper reaches of the river remain blocked. Jobs and infrastructure Act has made funding available. Vote.


Q: Do you have any idea of the numbers of returning salmon? Has this changed?

A: I don’t have those figures with me on return numbers. Some dams allow us to count fish, some don’t. I’d need to get back to you. We’ve had recent strong returns on Coho recently in Clackamas.


Q: A string of pearls – ideally places for salmon to get off-channel every two miles to rest and to feed. Kids used to catch salmon where the Toyota facility is now.

Have you ever used techniques like creating shallow water marches, or using water plants in shallow areas to create habitat for small fry?

A: Yes. Smith and Bybee Lake, very successful.


Q: Have you seen any restoration projects that include bio-remediation and fish habitat?

A: Yes. They can certainly go hand-in-hand. Removing toxins, replacing with native fill. And capping some toxic areas with native materials.


  • The CEI Hub is exempt from Tree Code.
  • From Mary Logalbo: Metro Nature in Neighborhoods, the City and my organization (WMSWCD) helps fund restoration work in the lower Willamette 🙂





Willie Levinson, Human Access Project. Update: Cathedral Park Dock Replacement, work is scheduled for this summer. Intention: improving habitat and recreation. Volunteers have been cleaning up riverfronts in Portland, including Cathedral Park. Concrete chunks will be removed this summer. Once the dock is removed EPA will come in to further clean the area.



Laura Shira, Environmental Engineer, Yakima Nation Fisheries Project. Working with EPA to make habitat and biology a part of the harbor conversation, organize a series of meetings to brainstorm what are the strategies and goals for the river.   509.985.3561





Upcoming Events and News on the River

Listen to traditional Nez Perce Storytelling from Harry Slickpoo Jr., exploring the art, history, and science embedded in traditional stories and their ability to hold and perpetuate living culture. Harry Slickpoo Jr. is an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe, a language instructor for Northwest Indian College and Lewiston High School teaching the Nez Perce language (Nimiipuutimt).  He is also the Collections Specialist for the Nez Perce Tribe’s Hiteemenwees research library and a cultural consultant to Nez Perce Tourism.

When and Where: Friday February 17, 2pm PST on Zoom.
Register here.

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. 


Rumble on the River Community Forum 4

Click this link for the Rumble on the River #4 What’s Up With Zenith Energy & the Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub in Portland Harbor. We had a great turn out there the Rumble, please share and join the next Rumble that will be announce in this announcement in the near future.  


Coffee Chat with Laura Knudson TBA

or phone/text (206-643-4299)


EPA Events & News

March 8 Hybrid Portland Harbor Collaborative Group

Please save the date for the next quarterly Portland Harbor Collaborative Group meeting in the evening on Wednesday, March 8! This meeting will be held as a hybrid event, with both in-person and virtual attendance options available. More information will be coming soon.

  • If you have any questions about the Portland Harbor Collaborative Group (including the Cathedral Park Project Area Working Group or the Willamette Cove Working Group), please e-mail or call Triangle Associates at 971-267-2402.


February 24 Virtual Cathedral Park Project Area Working Group (10-11:30am Pacific)

The next Cathedral Park Project Area Working Group Meeting will occur on Friday, February 24 from 10-11:30am (Pacific)! The focus for this working group (part of the Portland Harbor Collaborative) is to discuss community education and engagement opportunities for EPA’s sampling and remedial design work at the Cathedral Park Project Area. If you would like to join the working group or have other questions, please contact Laura Knudsen (, call/text 206-643-4299). 


EPA’s Regional PFAS Listening Sessions – More Information Coming Soon! 

To help inform EPA’s ongoing work under the PFAS Strategic Roadmap, EPA plans to facilitate a series of virtual community engagement sessions in 2023 for each of EPA’s 10 Regions. EPA also plans to hold a session specifically designed to hear from our Tribal partners. These engagement sessions will provide opportunities for communities to share feedback directly with EPA Regional and PFAS Council leaders to inform the implementation of the actions described in the Roadmap.


Updates from EPA’s Environmental Justice (EJ) Work

Please read below for reminders and updates on EPA’s EJ work, including:

 (Reminder – Due April 10!) EPA EJ Grant Opportunities: EPA has announced the availability of approximately $100 million through two grant programs for projects advancing environmental justice in underserved and overburdened communities nationwide.

    • The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program provides financial assistance to organizations with current or planned projects addressing local environmental and/or public health issues in their communities. To learn more, please visit the website for EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program.
    • The Environmental Justice Government-to-Government (EJG2G) Program will support/create model state, tribal, and local government activities that leverage existing resources to develop tools and processes that integrate EJ considerations into state, tribal, and local governments and government programs. To learn more, please visit the website for EPA’s Environmental Justice Government-to-Government (EJG2G) Program.

All applicants must partner with a community-based nonprofit organization, except for Tribal governments in remote areas. EPA encourages the use of EPA’s EJSCREEN tool and/or local screening and mapping tools to further help characterize and describe your target communities.


Eligible grant projects can include: Climate Resiliency and Adaptation, Disaster Preparedness, Environmental Job Training, Community-Led Science and Pollution Monitoring, Pollution Prevention, Reducing Indoor Air Toxics and Reducing Outdoor Air Pollution, Equitable Transportation and Mobility, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and Facilitating Engagement of Disadvantaged Communities in Local, State and Federal Government Public Process.


Applications must be submitted by April 10. For more information about EPA’s environmental justice grant funding, please visit EPA’s Environmental Justice Grants, Funding and Technical Assistance webpage at


(Upcoming Call – February 21st) The next National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call will take place on February 21 from 2-4pm (Eastern). To participate, please register in advance. For more information or to request reasonable accommodation for a disability or interpreter services please email by February 16, 2023.





Contact: Michael Pouncil at 503.705.7224,

Portland Harbor CAG
Portland Harbor CAG YouTube 

Our mailing address is: 

Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group

8316 N. Lombard St., PMB #344

Portland, OR  97203



Notes taken by Jane Terzis