Portland's Green Infrastructure

Locus Focus
program date: 
Tue, 07/21/2009

  Why preserving and building new green infrastructure is so important in making our city sustainable.

Hosted by: Barbara Bernstein

 What is Green Infrastructure? According to Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services it's: "interconnected natural systems and/ or engineered systems that use plants and soil to slow, filter, and infiltrate runoff close to its source in ways that strengthen and mimic natural functions and processes."

Today on Locus Focus host Barbara Bernstein talks with four key advocates for making Portland's green infrastructure a key part of the city's future planning. Mike Houck with the Urban Greenspaces Institute, Bob Sallinger with Audubon Society of Portland and Mary Wahl with the Bureau of Environmental Services get pose questions to Portland Mayor Sam Adams about the importance of emphasizing green infrastructure as the way of the city's future. You can call in with your own questions as well.

 Mike Houck, a native Portlander, has been a leader at the local, regional, national and international levels in urban park and greenspace issues since his founding the Urban Naturalist Program at theAudubon Society of Portland in 1980. Since that time he has worked on urban parks, trails, greenspaces and natural resources in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region. He speaks locally, nationally and internationally on issues related to urban natural resources and sustainable development. He helped found the Coalition for a Livable Future in 1994 to better integrate social and environmental issues into the region's growth management planning process. The CLF consists of over 70 nonprofit organizations, individuals and businesses from the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region working to build an equitable and sustainable metropolitan region. Mike directs the Urban Greenspaces Institute out of the Center for Spatial Analysis and Research at Portland State University's Geography Department where he is an adjunct instructor. Mike serves on the national steering committee of the Ecological Cities Project of Amherst, MA and on several local and regional urban watershed, park and greenspace advisory committees in the Portland metropolitan region. He is co-editor of the book, Wild in the City, a Guide to Portland's Natural Areas, and produced Wild on the Willamette, Exploring the Lower Willamette RiverMike has been recognized for his contributions to urban greenspace issues at the local, national, and international arenas.

Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director, has worked for Audubon since 1992 and previously served as the Society’s Wildlife Care Center Director and Urban Conservation Director. His current responsibilities include managing the Audubon Statewide Important Bird Area in Oregon, recovery of imperiled species, and promoting wildlife conservation in the Portland Metropolitan Region. He has a particular interest in anthropogenic impacts on wildlife and promoting wildlife stewardship in urban ecosystems. His work in this area is informed by his experience overseeing the rehabilitation of more than 40,000 injured wild animals and responding to more than 200,000 wildlife related phone calls. In 2001, Bob developed Audubon’s “Living with urban Wildlife” program to proactively promote wildlife stewardship on the urban landscape. A highlight of Bob’s career with Audubon has been his work managing Audubon’s Peregrine Project which has combined educational outreach, management, captive rearing and release, and citizen science to promote peregrine falcon recover in the Portland Metropolitan Region. Today Portland area peregrine eyries comprise 5% of the known peregrine nesting population in Oregon and the Audubon Program has been recognized with awards for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Bob’s passion for conservation was developed early exploring the woods of Massachusetts and later on solo hikes from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail and from Canada to New Mexico on the Continental Divide. Bob has a B.A. in Biology from Reed College and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for a Livable Future and the East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District. He lives in Northeast Portland with his wife Elisabeth Neely, two children, a dog and a couple of chickens.

Mary Wahl is the Watershed Services Group Manager for the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, which includes watershed planning and implementation, regulatory/policy, sustainable stormwater management, and the Endangered Species Act program. Previously, Maryspent 14 years at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, primarily as Administrator of the Waste Management and Cleanup Division. She is an avid kayaker and hiker. Her "leftover" time goes to a local effort on the southern Oregon coast, the "Conservation and Rural Working Landscapes Initiative," whose goal is to marry conservation of natural resources with local ranching and timber operations.Mary lives in Portland. 



   Sam Adams has been the mayor of Portland since 2009.



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