Dairy and McKay Creeks Confluence
Planning and conservation
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Protecting natural areas
Acquiring natural areas
› Dairy and McKay Creeks
Learn about the goals and objectives for habitat and water quality protection in the Dairy and McKay Creeks Confluence target area. View maps illustrating the Metro Council's priorities and learn more about the importance of this area to our region.
The Metro Council's goal and objectives for the Dairy and McKay Creeks Confluence target area are:
- Protect the riparian areas and associated wetlands in the Dairy and McKay Creeks confluence area to contribute significantly to improved water quality in these major tributaries of the Tualatin River.
Tier I Objectives
- Protect important riparian and lowland areas around the confluence of Dairy and Council Creeks and Dairy and McKay Creeks including linkages to existing public lands.
- Acquire lands along Council Creek to extend protection of the riparian area and to create a linkage between existing public lands.
Tier II Objective
- Protect riparian and wetland areas along portions of Council, Dairy and McKay Creeks.
About the area
West of Hillsboro and east of Cornelius, Dairy and McKay creeks drain a largely agricultural watershed within Washington County north of Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. McKay Creek forms the western boundary of the city of Hillsboro and flows into Dairy Creek north of Tualatin Valley Highway. The combined creeks flow south converging with the Tualatin River at Jackson Bottom. The confluence area provides a natural buffer between the cities of Hillsboro and Cornelius, converging at the border between farmland and urban development. Broad wetlands at the confluence of Dairy and McKay creeks, continuous woodlands and a significant portion of mature forest canopy around Camp Ireland Scout Camp northwest of Hillsboro provide excellent opportunities for reclamation and restoration of upland, riparian and wetlands habitats, as well as flood storage and water quality protection.
2006 Natural Areas Program bond description
The creeks converge at the interface of farmland and the urban growth boundary, forming broad wetlands accessible to a rapidly urbanizing area. Protecting the riparian areas and associated wetlands in the confluence area will contribute significantly to improved water quality in these major tributaries of the Tualatin River.
1995 Natural Areas Program goals and accomplishments
- Protect 335 acres adjacent to the confluence of Dairy Creek and the Tualatin River to expand on the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve complex.
- Protect other significant wetlands associated with Dairy Creek and its tributaries.
- Provide a linear greenway connection extending north along Dairy and McKay creeks for multiple values including natural resource protection, wildlife movement, a potential trail connection, education and recreation opportunities and a separation between the growing cities of Cornelius and Hillsboro.
To date 493 acres have been protected including key additions to Jackson Bottom and portions of stream frontage and trail corridors along Council Creek on the northern boundary of the city of Cornelius.
New focus for Metro's 2006 Natural Areas Program
- Protect lands along the creeks and associated wetlands in the confluence areas of Dairy and McKay creeks to the north of the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.
- Consider the relationship between natural areas protection and existing agricultural operations.
- The acquisition plan for this area will address Metro Council Resolution No. 06-3727, which included a commitment to keeping productive agricultural land in farm use and encouraging the use of conservation easements in agricultural areas.
Note: The Killin Wetlands portion of the original 1995 Dairy/McKay Creeks target area was designated as a separate target area in Metro's 2006 Natural Areas Program.
Field research and scientific data findings
- The portion of McKay Creek around Camp Ireland northwest of Hillsboro supports diverse habitat and plant communities. A significant portion of the site is covered with a mature forest canopy with agricultural fields in and around the forested area providing opportunities for reclamation and restoration of upland, creekside and wetlands habitat.
- Dairy Creek just north of its confluence with McKay Creek currently has less habitat diversity due to agricultural uses, but has great potential for restoring wildlife habitats, wetlands and floodplain functions.
- Dairy Creek watershed northwestward to Northwest Susbauer Road and westward along Council Creek has medium habitat diversity, but has considerable potential for restoring wildlife habitats, wetlands and floodplain functions, including supporting connectivity and wildlife corridors to protected Metro properties.
- Dairy Creek watershed northwestward from Northwest Susbauer Road has diverse habitat and plant communities. A large, continuous woodland area, agricultural fields, wetlands, marshes and streams provide opportunities to reclaim agricultural fields into wetlands or upland habitat.
- The lands along Council Creek west of today's public ownership have little habitat value and high impacts from human activity.
Public input helps Metro Council set priorities
In September 2007 the Metro Council approved acquisition plans for each of the 27 regional target areas. The Metro Council established these priorities with the input of natural resource and land use experts, scientists, citizens and local land managers. More than 500 people attended eight community open houses to share their ideas with Metro Councilors. Nearly 1,000 people filled out questionnaires ranking their priorities and offering ideas for partnerships and other ways to stretch the public's investment. The acquisition plans include a map, goals and objectives for each target area.
Natural Areas Program