Glendoveer Golf Course using solar power to improve water quality (2016)
At Glendoveer Golf Course, efforts to reduce toxins and enhance water quality got a boost with the installation of solar-powered aerators in three golf course ponds. Aeration helps create a healthier pond ecosystem, and choosing a solar-powered system means no electricity from the grid is needed to operate the aerators, avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.
Blue Lake Park entrance retrofitted with native plant rain garden (2015)
Metro recently reconstructed the entry to Blue Lake Regional Park. In addition to improving traffic flow and customer service at the entrance booths, the project replaced an outdated stormwater system with a bioswale planted with native plants to treat stormwater runoff. Previously, stormwater was managed by underground injection systems, including five drywells that directed untreated runoff from nearly 30,000 square feet of impervious surface into groundwater.
Two customer service booths were added to sell park passes and provide information to park patrons, including mobility-impaired visitors, thanks to accessibility enhancements. Stormwater runoff from the entry and exit lanes now drains into one of five bio-swales or filtration planters. The swales and planters capture all runoff from the new entrance’s 35,000 square feet of impervious surface, helping to prevent road flooding and to ensure that potential pollutants are not absorbed into the groundwater system below the park.
Cattle visit Cooper Mountain Nature Park for pilot grazing project (2015)
Visitors enjoying Cooper Mountain Nature Park’s breathtaking views, trails and wildflowers last spring and summer may have also encountered a new, temporary addition: cattle. As part of efforts to restore native prairies, a pilot project that started May 2015 has brought six head of cattle to Cooper Mountain’s prairies to graze. Grazing is a traditional and effective method of land management. The cattle are being evaluated as a possible “partner” to help maintain a healthy prairie by controlling weeds and creating space for native, rare wildflowers to flourish.
“Flowers drive the food web in prairies,” said Curt Zonick, the senior natural resources scientist at Metro who is leading the grazing project. “A prairie that doesn’t have prescribed burns or grazing becomes a field of grass eventually. Grass will outcompete wildflowers.”
Historically, grazing elk or deer would have munched their way through Cooper Mountain’s prairies. Although deer still graze at the park, they are no match for a host of new invasive weeds, such as tall oat grass, bird vetch and creeping velvet grass. The weeds crowd out native grasses and flowers during the summer growing season and threaten to overrun the park’s prairies.
“Grazing creates bare soil and opportunities for wildflowers to grow,” Zonick said. “When a wildflower seed drops in a prairie that has been grazed, there’s a chance it will land on bare soil instead of a three-inch layer of grass.” The cattle will be limited to grazing in an area bordered by a temporary electric fence, which will be moved periodically as the cattle make their way across the prairie.
Glendoveer Golf and Tennis Center: solar golf cart barn (2014)
When the time came to build a new barn to house golf carts at Metro’s Glendoveer Golf and Tennis Center, the team at Parks and Environmental Services incorporated solar into the design. This gave them the ability to replace 90 gas powered carts with 75 electric golf carts that could be charged by the solar panels while they are parked in the barn. This saves more than 465 gallons of gasoline per month in peak golf season. The 26 kW solar electric system has 96 solar panels manufactured by SolarWorld in Hillsboro, Oregon and is expected to produce 23,737 kWh of electricity per year. Energy Trust of Oregon contributed $36,288 in incentives for the project.
Glendoveer irrigation system upgrades and stormwater retrofits (2014)
In partnership with its golf course operator, CourseCo, Metro’s Parks and Environmental Services department upgraded the irrigation system by adding programmable irrigation system controls. This system gives the operator the flexibility to control individual irrigation stations based on their unique watering needs. The team also removed a small pond from the golf course, which eliminates the need to fill it throughout the summer. These changes resulted in a dramatic change in water use, from 109,626 CCF to 69,126 CCF (equivalent to a savings of more than 30 million gallons) in FY 13-14, a 37 percent reduction.
In addition, 21,280 square feet of impervious surfaces at Glendoveer were converted to sustainable stormwater management areas this past year. Bioswales were added to capture runoff from the cart barn and half the roof of the tennis center, permeable pavers were installed for a patio replacement and a small ecoroof was installed on the roof of a new enclosure for recycling bins.
Adding native plants to the landscape at Blue Lake Regional Park (2014)
In 2013, voters across the Portland metropolitan area approved a five-year levy to help care for regional parks and natural areas. The levy raises about $10 million per year, going toward six major initiatives representing hundreds of projects on the ground. One of the initiatives is park maintenance and improvements. Capital improvements such as new restrooms, playgrounds and parking enhance Metro’s developed parks, which attract more than 1.3 million visitors every year.
At Blue Lake Regional Park, 53,500 square feet – more than an acre – of non-native landscape areas were converted to native and low water use plantings. Of 40 different species planted, 35 are Oregon native plants. Zoo Doo, compost made from herbivore waste at the Oregon Zoo, was used to mulch the planting beds. This mulch helps keep weeds down without herbicides and keeps the soil cool and moist. To create the triple-bottom line sustainability for this project, the consultant team included a Woman-owned Business Enterprise (WBE), Disadvantaged-Business Enterprise (DBE) certified landscape architecture firm and a DBE/WBE certified surveyor.
Park improvements help protect the Columbia River (2013)
The recent expansion of the M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp on the Columbia River included the addition of more than 117,000 square feet of native plantings, including bioswales that filter stormwater runoff from the parking lot and prevent it from entering the river.
New parks incorporate sustainable design (2010)
Metro included sustainable design elements in planning Cooper Mountain Nature Park and Graham Oaks Nature Park. A solar array was installed at Cooper Mountain, generating 4.4 kilowatts of renewable energy, and bioswales treat the site's stormwater. At Graham Oaks, the use of pervious pavement, native plants, recycled latex paint and local materials all contribute to the park's sustainability.