Last Chance: Comments Due By Friday to Fix Environmentally Destructive Portland Area Levees

Comments are due by midnight this Friday (February 14) to provide input on the U.S. Army Corps plan for repairing and modernizing the Columbia River Levee System which extends from Portland to Troutdale and protects more than 24,000 acres of historic floodplain from flooding. Like many levee systems, this one was designed with little consideration of the environment. Thanks to strong input from Bird Alliance of Oregon Activists and others last year, the Oregon Legislature created a new Flood Safety and Water Quality District to upgrade and manage this important system with a clear mandate to integrate environmental restoration, environmental justice, and climate resiliency into its mission.

Read Bird Alliance of Oregon’s joint comments with other environmental and environmental justice organizations.

Two female Belted Kingfishers perching on a branch with mustard colored lichen.
Belted Kingfisher, photo by Scott Carpenter

Take Action by Submitting Comments by Friday, Feb. 14:

See key messages below. The Corps’ public comment period will run until Friday, February 14 at 11:59 p.m. Send Comments to:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Levee Ready Columbia have released a plan to repair the levee system so that it can meet national standards for recertification. Unfortunately the proposed plan fails to address either environmental or environmental justice goals. The Corps eliminated all green strategies for floodplain protection, claiming that they were outside of its mandate. Put simply, they are proposing to perpetuate the same types of ecologically destructive approaches to flood control that they have been doing for decades and which have repeatedly failed to adequately protect communities.

The Corps has also provided inadequate time for public review of this complex document—just 40-days for a plan that will cost more than $157 million and take more than 3.5 years to complete.

Key messages:

  • The Public review and comment period was too short. Thirty-nine days is outrageous for a plan that will cost more than $157 million and have huge impacts on our community and environment.
  • The plan completely fails to address the new Flood Safety and Water Quality District’s mandate to integrate environmental restoration, environmental justice and landscape resiliency into its mission as mandated by the Oregon legislature.
  • The plan fails to adequately address significant negative environmental impacts that will be caused by the proposed levee “upgrades” including removal of hundreds of mature trees, floodplains, shallow water habitat, all of which harm federally listed salmon species.
  • The Corps Plan is a megaproject that is certain to explode in costs that will be passed onto local taxpayers because, even at $157 million, the plan does not include the costs of cleaning up 23 contaminated properties that must be acquired, cleaned up and transferred to the Corps by local jurisdictions to make way for this megaproject.
  • The Corps and Levee Ready  Columbia must develop a cost effective alternative that integrates environmental restoration, environmental justice, landscape resiliency and which fully mitigates any environmental harms caused by this project.

It is time for a 21st century approach to flood management! Thank you for speaking out.