Recreation and River Access

Map of Portland Harbor showing Recreation Access Areas

Existing Recreation Access Locations in Portland Harbor

Recreation in Portland Harbor

For generations, the Lower Willamette River has been, and continues to be, a popular place for water-based recreation. Portland’s diverse communities interact with the river in various ways. Activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and enjoying nature are an important part of life along the Lower Willamette River. For example, recreational fishing draws over 10,000 people to the river every year. Beach activities, tubing, and river cruises are also popular. However, the Trustee Council’s assessment efforts have demonstrated that contamination has negatively impacted river-based recreation in the Portland area (i.e., people use the river less and enjoy river-based recreation less than they would have if the Willamette River was not contaminated).

Restoration Objectives

The Trustee Council is collecting information and beginning to evaluate how to most effectively identify and implement projects that will improve public river access and recreational opportunities to compensate for the impacts of contamination. This includes reviewing information compiled by other governmental agencies that manage and plan for recreation in Portland. The Trustee Council’s current geographic focus for recreational restoration is the Portland Harbor Assessment Area, which is adjacent to many Portland neighborhoods. As described in the Programmatic Restoration Plan, the Trustee Council’s recreational objectives include:

  • Increasing access to the river for residents of local neighborhoods.
  • Providing improved fishing-based opportunities for local communities through increased shoreline access to the river.
  • Ensuring that recreational restoration projects do not conflict with clean-up and restoration goals.
  • Minimizing conflict with ecological restoration projects.

The Trustee Council will also explicitly consider environmental justice, equitable access, and community involvement in the development and evaluation of recreation priorities. Opportunities for public engagement may include informal conversations through outreach, review and comment on draft Trustee Council plans, and participation in public meetings. The Trustee Council will provide information on these opportunities as they arise.

The Trustee Council recognizes that there may be constraints on improving or increasing recreational opportunities due to remedial actions or ongoing restrictions on resource use (e.g., fish consumption advisories). The council will work to identify and design projects that maximize recreational benefits while accounting for those restrictions.

People swimming and throwing a ball to each other in the water

People recreating in the Willamette River

Kayakers on the Willamette River

Boaters on the Willamette River