Embrace your river

The Willamette River is our home. We live on or near its banks and cross it every day. Yet, for generations we humans have mistreated, neglected, and scorned it. Well, the tide is turning. Together with others, the Human Access Project (HAP) is helping people "get into" this natural treasure - to enjoy it, preserve it, and cherish it for generations to come.


                           Join the riverlution!

Mission, Vision and Path  


VISION   A city in love with its river.

MISSION   Transform Portland’s relationship with the Willamette River.


  1. Build it: create more public spaces, beaches and access points to the Willamette River
                             in downtown Portland.
  2. Use it: inspire Portlanders and visitors to connect with the Willamette River.
  3. Love it: support conservation, education and stewardship of the Willamette River and


Create a human habitat

Let’s face it, even if you wanted to swim in the Willamette River in downtown Portland, how would you do it? There's no easy way to get into the water. Frankly, that’s crazy. Here we have a natural treasure running through the heart of our city and no easy way to enjoy it.      


It’s like this:  if you want birds to come into your yard, you put up a bird feeder and plant trees to create a bird-friendly habitat. The same is true for humans and the river. If we want to make it easy for people to swim and recreate in the Willamette we need to create better access and a more inviting environment.


That is the path we are on. Follow us!

The decline of Portland’s river is over

The following is an excerpt from, “PORTLAND A Historical Sketch and Guide” by Terence O’Donnell and Thomas Vaughan.

“In the 1920s, the river through downtown was lost. From the beginning, the city’s water playground had also been the city’s sewer. Boat clubs declined the use of the river as did swimmers, lovers, fishermen and boys in skiffs. Also, now the river steamers stopped plying to wharf towns, their wakes no longer fanning the surface, their place taken by other forms of transportation.

Finally, in 1929 the downtown wharves were demolished and a seawall was built. The Willamette became a ditch and almost entirely disappeared from the city’s consciousness. In the Old World, every river had its god and the people honored him and carved his image on bridges and banks. Perhaps we will someday repay in part the debt we owe the Willamette for the many years it has given Portland both pleasure and profit.”

The Human Access Project is part of the movement to reclaim the Willamette River - to improve access to it, restore its health, and preserve it as a natural resource for generations to come.  


Our River (Willamette River Song)