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2016 Achievements

October 15, 2016

Get on board and help turn the tide after decades of abuse and neglect of the Willamette River. If you dig what HAP has done, dive in and join us! And have a whale of a time doing it! Get into your river!


HAP 1st Annual Mayoral Swim with Ted Wheeler

HAP made history this year by inviting our new Mayor Elect Ted Wheeler to join 250 other river lovers in a swim across the Willamette River. Forming relationships with local officials helps build support for our work. Ted is a Willamette River enthusiast.


The Big Float

HAP had a successful sixth TBF. To date, over 9,000 floaters have participated in our annual Willamette River celebration and HAP fundraiser. TBF 6 included a paddlers’ parade, river float, and after-party with live music from three bands on a barge. Every year we work hard to make TBF safer and to boost awareness about HAP and the greatly improved water quality of our Willamette River.


River Huggers Swim Team

This was the 4th summer for HAP’s River Huggers Swim Team. This year 153 swimmers joined the team and our typical swim had 20-30 participants. We all swim a lap together (in a pod) across the Willamette and back in downtown Portland. In addition to three morning swims a week, this year we added an after-work swim. Plans call for a second after-work swim for summer 2017 so we will be lapping the river five days a week. It’s a fresh, invigorating start to the day and a high visibility way to demonstrate the recreational value of the Willamette River. We even have our own River Hugger swim caps. In partnership with Portland Fire, HAP purchased and installed a dock locker so our swimmers can enjoy their swim with clothes and valuables secured.


Successful advocacy in 2016

HAP is making friends and inroads with our ongoing advocacy.

- HAP played a lead role in the funding of a swimming study in downtown Portland.

- Made significant contributions to the city’s 2035 plan to include the development of swimming areas/beaches.

- Saved (for the moment) the Kevin Duckworth Memorial Dock from being moved from Downtown Portland to Swan Island.

- Hosted a “Debunking Willamette River Myths” event (with Oregon Health Authority, DEQ, City of Portland & Oregon State University).

- HAP Facebook has increased fans by 76% - currently at 4,410!

Notable Accomplishments


Poet’s Beach   Working with others, we created a new access path to a sandy beach (we’ve nicknamed Poet’s Beach) on the west bank of the Willamette beneath the Marquam Bridge. HAP arranged to have children’s poems and Chinook words engraved into stones along the path.

Audrey McCall Beach

HAP has been working for the last five years to create a beach (Audrey McCall Beach) on the east bank of the Willamette River just south of Hawthorne Bridge. To date, 19 tons of ugly concrete chunks, glass and debris have been removed (about 6 elephants worth)! Next year a new layer of small river rock will be installed making this beach even beachier!

Unrocking the Tom McCall Bowl

HAP’s “UnRock the Bowl” events are beach work parties where volunteers move riprap rocks from the river’s edge back up on the bank where they belong. The unrocking helps create a better beach for recreation and also improves shallow habitat for juvenile salmon.

HAP “Our River” song
We composed, wrote and produced a song – “Our River” – that is an anthem honoring the Willamette River. Sung by longtime Portland musician, Lewi Longmire.  

Swim at your own risk signage  
A few years ago we advocated for the City of Portland to post “Swim At Your Own Risk” signs along the river. This was a safety/legal issue that we brought to the City’s attention – and it also showed that swimming in the river was officially allowed.

HAP is a grassroots volunteer effort

Approximately 98% of all funds earned from HAP sponsors and The Big Float participants goes directly to creating new beaches, better access and improved appreciation for the Willamette River. HAP is virtually an all volunteer effort with little overhead.