Oregon Lawmakers Announce Funding to Revitalize Willamette Falls

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici today announced that $600,000 has been awarded to Metro-Portland, Oregon’s regional government, to restore and revitalize one of Oregon’s natural treasures, Willamette Falls, from contamination left over from a now-shuttered industrial site.

Willamette Falls, second only to Niagara in volume in America, marks the end of the Oregon Trail and holds evidence of 13,000 years of Native American experience in its surrounding areas. For 150 years land adjacent to the falls was used as an industrial site for uses such as paper manufacturing. With that site now shuttered, a collaborative group of stakeholders including business, government, tribal, conservation and environmental communities is focused on cultural, recreational, historical, and environmental restoration and economic development to ensure the site will be a multi-use crown jewel in Northwest Oregon. 

The funding will be used to assess contamination in brownfield sites along the McLoughlin Corridor in Clackamas County, at the end of which sits Willamette Falls. Brownfield cleanup is critical to future development of the site. The lawmakers pushed for the funding from the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year. 

“The Willamette Falls is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered by visitors from near and far,” Wyden said. “The work by all the cities, counties, stakeholders, and the Oregon Legislature to open up access to this beautiful natural treasure are exciting, and I am glad to do what I can to help in those efforts.”

“I’ve visited the Willamette Falls site and seen firsthand its tremendous potential,” Merkley said. “With this federal investment, we can begin to both rehabilitate this beautiful place and revitalize the economy along the river.”

“Oregon City is home to one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the country,” Schrader said. “This federal grant will help in the effort to finally provide public access to the Willamette Falls and revitalize an area – that Oregonians can enjoy and take pride in – to become an economic hub for the region.”

“Restoring access to Willamette Falls will bring tourism and economic development, while celebrating our cultural heritage and Oregon’s natural beauty,” Blumenauer said. “Cleaning up this brownfield site is an important step in the right direction.”

“Willamette Falls is steeped in beauty and history and deserves to be restored,” Bonamici said. “This critical support will go a long way toward cleaning up contaminants at Willamette Falls so generations to come may enjoy the area.”