Rain Garden Bike Tour
This tour highlights some of the projects created by the City of Eugene and private businesses that are helping clean our water before it flows to rivers and streams. These raingarden systems mimic nature by using plants and soil to filter, trap, and transform pollution that would otherwise wash into local waterways, including the Willamette River.
Some of the plants you will see most often in these systems are rushes and sedges. They are chosen for their ability to send down deep roots that help direct and treat stormwater. Other plants are used to aid in these functions as well as provide habitat for wildlife and natural beauty.
1) Sladden Park
Sladden Park was remodeled in 2020. The two raingardens near the playground treat water that runs off the concrete surfaces and filters any pollutants it may contain. Here you will see lots of spreading rush, chosen for its drought tolerance and excellent treatment qualities. You’ll also see some spiraea, an ornamental flowering shrub with colorful foliage to brighten up the landscape and attract butterflies.
2) Monroe Housing
The Long Tom Watershed Council has a voluntary stormwater retrofit program called Trout Friendly Landscapes, partially funded by the City of Eugene. This program offers free technical assistance, project installation cost offsets, ongoing maintenance assistance and publicity. Sometimes stormwater fee credits can be provided by the City as well. This raised planter treats roof runoff and was created from a wood concrete block that uses less energy to construct than traditional concrete blocks, will be more durable than traditional wood, and is a locally made recycled product. It is also an example of a very pretty and varied planting, with showy flowering plants that provide pollinator habitat.
3) Mahonia Building
Built in 2018, the Mahonia Building is a LEED certified building, proof of the commitment of this owner to green building techniques. There is a unique downspout connecting the water falling on the roof to the raingardens surrounding the building. A large water collection tank can be used to water many of the native plants that surround the site. Can you spot our state flower, Oregon grape? It has holly-like leaves and can be found throughout this landscape. Oregon grape has yellow flowers that become sour berries and, like many of our native plants, provide food for birds and bees. This site meets Long Tom Watershed Council’s Trout Friendly Landscape goals and has been awarded the Gold Level Pledge.
4) Alton Baker
In 2015, this raingarden was planted with native rushes and sedges, which are able to thrive in wet conditions. This was originally a wet spot in the lawn and was difficult to maintain. City mowers would get stuck and it was real challenge to keep it looking nice. Not only did a change in what was planted here solve the issue, these plants also help water find its way more easily to the Willamette River.
5) 1st Christian Church
This project is another Trout Friendly Landscape project created with the guidance of the Long Tom Watershed Council. This raingarden treats oil and other chemicals running off the parking lot to the west of the church. Projects like this are critical in our fight for clean water. Many of the pollutants that can harm people, plants and animals wash off parking lots and streets from the cars that park or drive on them.
6) Amazon Wetland
This project improved the variety of native plants in this wetland that drains to Amazon Creek. Wetlands are nature’s sponge. They filter, clean and store water. The raingardens on this tour use plants and soil to mimic this natural system. These large native planting areas play an important role in cleaning water and creating homes and food for birds and bugs. This site was improved in 2001 when the Amazon Pool was built to counteract the wetlands that were disturbed during construction. This project is part of a large wetland mitigation bank program the City of Eugene administers, where developers can contribute to wetland improvements when they disturb wetlands as part of their projects. Tufted hairgrass and western buttercup are some of the native plants that you can see thriving in this area.