Rock Creek Environmental Studies Center


East side forestThe Rock Creek Environmental Studies Center (RCESC) is a natural area within Portland Community College's Rock Creek Campus that is considered to be an important natural history area by both the Portland Audubon Society and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The natural area, which comprises the RCESC, includes about 44 acres of woodland, 11 acres of wetland and 44 acres of grasslands. Several smaller unique ecosystems are also present in this site, including several springs and a small pond ecosystem.

madowThere are two sections of Douglas-fir dominated forests, which also include species of trees such as Western hemlock, Western Redcedar, Pacific yew, and Bigleaf maple; in addition to a wide variety of shrubs and plants. The site also contains some bottomland forested areas which include Red alder, Oregon white oak, Beaked hazelnut, and others. Several wetland plant communities and a large grassland area also occur within the RCESC. These areas provides habitat for several groups of wildlife including nesting areas for waterfowl, quail, pheasants and song birds; as well as being homes to mammals such as deer, beaver, muskrat, mink, raccoon, fox and coyote.

Studies and Restorationsfrogs

Rock Creek's Environmental Studies Center is a vital and diverse grouping of habitats that occur on Portland Community College's Rock Creek Campus. While human endeavors such as farming (in addition to the construction of nearby housing, roads and parking lots) have modified parts of this habitat and it's hydrology; through outside grants, previously farmed and overgrazed land is slowly being returned to a more natural state. During this process of habitat restoration, which includes invasive plants removal and plantings of native vegetation; we are monitoring the changes in the quality of the habitat before, during and after implementation of these restoration projects. Changes are being monitored through: data collection on plant and animal species, water quality sampling and photography. In addition, there are several ongoing studies occurring that are performed by PCC students and volunteers; these include microclimate studies and the surveying of wild flowers, lichens, and amphibians.


Three major groups are served by the RCESC:

  • PCC's Environmental Studies, Biology and Landscape Technology students are fortunate to have an extremely diverse living laboratory to observe and study within the campus boundaries.
  • Local colleges and universities, high schools, and grade schools take advantage of RCESC for related field courses. Groups of five or more should contact us and a visit form is provided for your convenience.
  • Citizen groups visit for nature hikes and volunteer in habitat restoration projects. Again the visit form is provided for the convenience of groups.


Building, maintenance, invasive removal, and restoration projects at Rock Creek Environmental Studies Center are managed primarily through the use of volunteers. Projects can include such things as construction, planting, nuisance plant control, data collection and plant & animal surveys.

Information on projects will be posted on the bulletin boards of the Biology/ Environmental Studies Student Associations and the PCC Horticultural Association's Bulletin Boards in Building 7 at Rock Creek. Information can also be obtained by contacting either Val Brenneis at or 971-722-7033, and Kevin Lien at or 971-722-7460.