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Group Wants to Reopen Willamette Falls Locks

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Group Wants to Reopen Willamette Falls Locks. KGW News. July 19, 2018.

The US Army Corps of Engineers to Conduct Study of Flood Protection Systems in Portland Region

The US Army Corps of Engineers to Conduct Study of Flood Protection Systems in Portland Region


Evyn Mitchell, Public Affairs & Communications Manager 
(503) 281-5675

Portland, Ore. –  The US Army Corps of Engineers have announced that they will conduct a flood damage reduction feasibility study of the Portland metropolitan levee system. The designation came through the Corps’ storm supplemental with funding for a $3 million feasibility study over the next three years. The outcome of study will identify recommendations based on optimizing national economic development benefits balanced with other important considerations such as natural and cultural resources, socioeconomics, and life safety. The feasibility study builds on the work of the Levee Ready Columbia partnership, which was initiated through a Governor-designated Oregon Solutions project in 2013 to ensure the 27-mile levee system along the lower Columbia River continued to meet federal requirements and to help modernize the system, which reduces the risk of flooding for over 12,000 acres of land, 7,400 residents and 48,000 jobs.
Levee Ready Columbia’s efforts have included a comprehensive engineering evaluation of the levees, studies and inventories that have considered the environmental function of the system and the regional economic benefits generated behind the levees. This work has identified about seven areas where structural updates are needed on the levees. The Corps’ study will help to identify solutions to address these areas vulnerable to flood damage, as well as paths to implement those solutions. By working together to implement these solutions, the Corps, Multnomah County Drainage District on behalf of the four Columbia Corridor Drainage Districts, and the Levee Ready Columbia partnership will be able to reduce the overall flood risk that threatens people’s safety and key components of our regional economy. The results of the study will also be used to determine future federal investments in the system. 
The request for the study was made by Levee Ready Columbia, the State of Oregon, and by members of Oregon’s congressional delegation. The delegation, including Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader, submitted a letter strongly arguing the need for the project. “Since the Vanport Flood in 1948, the levee system has protected our communities, but recently the levees are showing significant signs of structural vulnerabilities,” explains Senator Jeff Merkley. “This study is an important next step in our efforts to modernize the levee system and protect the lives, jobs, and $16 billion of economic activity behind the levees.”

In addition to the congressional delegation, Governor Kate Brown’s office has been an ongoing and vital supporter of the project through Oregon Solutions, the backing of Business Oregon, and the Regional Solutions team. “This is a significant milestone for the project as we continue to work toward the long-term viability of the levee system and all it keeps safe,” said Governor Brown. “This study reinforces the importance of coordination, which will strengthen our ongoing efforts to modernize the Columbia River levee system.”

The Levee Ready Columbia partnership, convened by Jules Bailey, is also supported by the cities of Troutdale, Fairview, Gresham, and Portland, the Columbia Corridor drainage districts, Multnomah County, Metro, the Port of Portland, and numerous community groups. Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick has long championed Levee Ready Columbia: This project continues to exemplify what can be accomplished through collaboration and strong coordination between local, regional, state, and federal agencies. Thanks to the hard work of all of the project partners, we’re well poised for success as we work with the Corps to develop plans to modernize the current levee system. There are 48,000 jobs protected by the levee system in Multnomah County, and is of great significance to the region’s economy.”
Speaking to the importance of the feasibility study for the region, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler noted that “The federal government has recognized the importance of assuring the levee system along the Columbia River is resilient and reliable, which will keep our citizens safe and our businesses thriving.” Troutdale Mayor Casey Ryan shared a similar sentiment stating, “The levee system protects our thriving local and regional economy. The land behind the levees in Troutdale provides family wage jobs that are vital for our community.”
While the system continues to be maintained and operated to the highest standards by Multnomah County Drainage Districtthe study will work to achieve higher certainty and reliability of the system, which is crucial to the economic livelihood of Oregonians throughout the state. An economy that generates $16 billion in annual economic activity can be found behind the levees. The Portland International Airport, Oregon Air National Guard and hundreds of businesses both small and large can be found behind the levees. Additionally, three interstate highways and two intercontinental railroads pass through the system.
“People rely on Portland International Airport and our marine facilities to stay connected with family and friends, and business and jobs,” said Curtis Robinhold, Port of Portland executive director. “As such, we’re very committed to the efforts to improve and modernize the levee system and welcome this study and continued partnership with the Corps.”

This designation is significant for the Portland metropolitan region, for the state of Oregon, and for the Pacific Northwest. The designation of the study by the Army Corps indicates that the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works’ office and the Office of Management and Budget recognize that our levee system needs specific updates to improve certainty and reliability in future flood events. The Levee Ready Columbia partnership remains committed to making those changes and modernizing the levee system, bolstered by the support and expertise of the Corps. 

KATU News Features Levee Ready Columbia Partnership

KATU News Crews came out to see the MCDD and Levee Ready Columbia teams recent response in action yesterday. MCDD staff has been working around the clock to ensure the levees stay in good condition through the sustained high-water levels.Their work is essential in helping to reduce flood risks throughout the region. Thanks and congratulations to MCDD and LRC Staff for all their hard work around Enhanced Operations and helping raise public awareness about the need to maintain levee accreditation. Watch and share the story from KATU News:

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Brown Visits EOU

LA GRANDE — Oregon Governor Kate Brown visited Eastern Oregon University Saturday morning to sign the bill allocating $9 million toward building a field house on campus.

The field house will be the first new campus building in 30 years that is fully funded by the state, according to a press release from EOU.

“When I came to EOU a few years ago, the field house was part of our master plan, but it was just a small project (that) was only focused on athletics and was ultimately about bringing wrestling back to EOU,” said Tom Insko, EOU president. “As we looked at (the field house plans) we felt we had the opportunity to do something significantly more.”….

…Brown also introduced the Oregon Solutions project with EOU and Portland State University. Oregon Solutions brings businesses, government and nonprofits to the table to agree on what role each can play to address a community need.

“Educators, local leaders, legislators and businesses are all at the table working on a strategy focused on people, place and prosperity,” Brown said. “That’s why we’re focused on launching ‘Future Ready Oregon,’ a new initiative to make sure our students and our adults have hands-on learning opportunities to prepare them for the jobs our growing businesses need at every single corner of the state. To help make this vision a reality in La Grande and throughout the region, I am very happy to announce the launch of the Urban Rural Ambassadors program. This is a new partnership with EOU and with PSU and Oregon Solutions. It will challenge students, whether from Pendleton or Portland to provide creative solutions to meet the needs of our diverse communities and support our local thriving economies.”

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Brown Visits EOU. The Observer. April 30, 2018.

Oregon Lawmakers Seek Flood Study for Portland

Washington, D.C. – Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader today strongly urged federal officials to support a flood protection feasibility study for Portland.

The Oregon lawmakers said their request comes as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has raised concerns about the prospects for a Portland flood.

“The Corps has recognized a substantial increase in the system’s risk profile and potential consequences from a major flood event making further investigation of the existing system an urgent need,” they wrote Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Assistant Army Secretary R.D. James.

The lawmakers asked that the Portland Metropolitan Flood Protection Project General Investigations Feasibility Study be included in the Army Corps’ work plan for the 2018 fiscal year. The letter notes that the area now protected by the Corps-designed and built 27-mile levee system was the site in 1948 of a catastrophic levee breach that killed 15 people and permanently displaced the entire Vanport community.

View the letter (PDF) here.

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Oregon Lawmakers Seek Flood Study for Portland: Wyden, Merkley, Blumenauer, DeFazio, Bonamici, Schrader Cite Army Corps Concerns Covering Former Vanport Area. Senator Ron Wyden Press Release. April 30, 2018.

Karmen Fore Hired as Director of Oregon Solutions at Portland State University

Karmen Fore Hired as Director of Oregon Solutions at Portland State University

Karmen Fore Hired as Director of Oregon Solutions at Portland State University

Image of Karmen Fore
The National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University is thrilled to announce that Karmen Fore will be joining the center as Director of the Oregon Solutions program. Ms. Fore has had an influential career in public service, most recently as Senior Director for Federal Affairs and Transportation for Governor Brown, where she focused on leading the governor’s efforts to develop sustainable, multimodal transportation systems that move Oregon’s people and cargo more efficiently. She has been instrumental in managing major transportation policy advancements, including the passage of the 2017 transportation package. She previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff for US Representative DeFazio and as a professional staff member for the US House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Before that she served as District Director for Congressman DeFazio. Ms. Fore has a master’s in public affairs and a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Oregon.


Ms. Fore’s deep experience and broad community connections will be great assets for Oregon Solutions, which works across the state to help communities harness resources to implement sustainable solutions that address local and regional problems and opportunities. Ms. Fore will join Oregon Solutions beginning March 19 and will be located at the Urban Center at Portland State University.

Governor’s Directive Boosts County Project

Governor Kate Brown has awarded Oregon Solutions project status to a local collaborative that seeks to build a career and technical education center in south Douglas County.

A release from the Douglas Education Service District says project boosters are hoping the center will be operational by September of this year.

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Governor's Directive Boosts County Project. KQEN News Radio 1240. January 18, 2018.

John Day receives $2.25 million in state broadband, dispatch funding

State legislators approved $2.25 million in funding for John Day earlier this month.

John Day City Manager Nick Green said $1.82 million will go toward fiber optic broadband service, and $420,000 will go to help fund the local dispatch center.

The broadband funding, requested by Sen. Ted Ferrioli, will allow for nearly 70 percent of county residents to access high-speed internet, Green said.

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John Day receives $2.25 million in state broadband, dispatch funding. Blue Mountain Eagle. July 25, 2017.

Project will turn abandoned railroad into trail that connects coast to Portland suburbs

BANKS, OR (KPTV) – An abandoned railroad could soon become a hiking trail that connects the coast to the suburbs of Portland. The Salmonberry Trail doesn’t exist yet, but it just got one step closer to becoming a reality.

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Project will turn abandoned railroad into trail that connects coast to Portland suburbs. KPTV Fox 12. July 18, 2017.

City Launches Initiative to Prevent Displacement of East Portland Homeowners

‘Flood Insurance Savings Program’ Will Help Reduce Cost, Risk in Johnson Creek Floodplain


Portland, OR –  The City of Portland today launches a new program to mitigate and prevent displacement among East Portland homeowners at risk for flooding and rising insurance premiums.

As many as 800 households in the Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhoods could face   substantial financial and environmental risk from the Johnson Creek floodplain, according to the latest estimates. As mandatory flood insurance premiums continue to rise each year (up to 18%), some area homeowners face the prospect of economic displacement. Even with flood insurance, flood damaged homes can be difficult to repair. At the same time, property values decrease, impacting investment in the area, and leaving low- and moderate-income homeowners vulnerable to predatory real estate practices.

Beginning in June, the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) will pilot a new Flood Insurance Savings Program to help a limited number of low- to moderate-income homeowners in Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert reduce their flood hazard insurance premiums, identify opportunities to make home improvements, and increase their resiliency to flood risks.

This program comes as the result of efforts underway in the Governor-designated “Lents Stabilization and Job Creation Collaborative” Oregon Solutions project, and leverages a unique partnership between the City of Portland and the local non-profit, Enhabit. Through elevation surveys and in-home assessments, Enhabit will determine the unique flood risks facing each home as well as the necessary improvements to improve its resiliency against flooding.

Interested participants can learn more about how to protect their property from flood hazards and save money on flood insurance this Saturday, June 3, at a community event ‘Life in the Floodplain.’ The event is hosted by the Portland Housing Bureau, together with faculty and students from Portland State University and the Oregon Solutions. Area residents will have an opportunity to share how they are being impacted, and ask questions of City staff, as well as State Representative Jeff Reardon and Planning and Sustainability Commissioner, Michelle Rudd.

Applications for the pilot Flood Insurance Savings Program will be available beginning June 3, and the deadline to submit an application is July 5, 2017. Interested participants can apply here:


“Life in the Floodplain”
Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM
Earl Boyles Elementary School
10822 SE Bush Street

For more information, contact: Jacob Sherman

Or visit