The Willamette River is the most industrialized and polluted river in Oregon. Weaving through the state's largest city, it has been reshaped and abused for 150 years. In 2000 the last 10 miles of the Willamette, home to the Portland Harbor and Critical Energy Infrastructure tank farms, was designated a Superfund site, which is finally about to be cleaned up. But once the Willamette was a thriving braided river ecosytem supporting Indigenous communities and abundant wildlife. You can still see glimmers of that past along slim sections of the river, which can help us imagine what the rest of the river might look like again if it is properly cleaned up and protected.
On this episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Travis Williams, executive director of Willamette Riverkeeper, about how to address the harms perpetrated on our beloved river and envision a healthy, happy Willamette for generations to come.