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Forest Park Connections

Planning and conservation    Natural areas, parks and trails    Protecting natural areas    Acquiring natural areas    Forest Park Connections

Learn about the goals and objectives for habitat and water quality protection in the Forest Park Connections target area. View maps illustrating the Metro Council's priorities in this area and learn more about the importance of the area to our region.

The Metro Council's goals and objectives for the Forest Park Connections target area are:

photo of Forest Park Connections target area


  • Acquire key properties to connect Forest Park to other public lands.
  • Protect key undeveloped sites in the lower reaches of Rock Creek to buffer growth, protect water quality and provide nature in neighborhoods.
  • Connect Forest Park to Rock Creek and the Westside Trail to keep important wildlife corridors intact and provide trail connections between the region’s largest urban park and Washington County.
  • Protect important headwater areas on the eastside of the ridgeline.


Tier I Objective

  • Acquire and protect additional lands along the corridor at the north end of the park to link Forest Park with other publicly owned parcels northwest of Newberry Road.

Tier II Objectives

  • Secure key locations for trailheads in areas of the park that lack suitable access.
  • Acquire important habitat links and connections with Rock Creek headwater streams on the west side of the ridgeline.
  • Using conservation easements as the primary tool, acquire important headwater areas within the Balch, Saltzman, Doane, and Miller Creek watersheds, on the east side of the ridgeline.

Partnership Objectives

  • Pursue partnership opportunities with the City of Portland Parks and Bureau of Environmental Services, Washington and Multnomah Counties, and Clean Water Services to coordinate protection efforts and to leverage regional bond dollars.
  • Pursue partnership opportunities with Friends of Forest Park, Trust for Public Land, The Three Rivers Land Conservancy, and other local land trusts to leverage regional bond dollars targeted to the Forest Park Connections area.

About the area

Forest Park stretches for nearly eight miles along the northeast slope of the Tualatin Mountains within the city of Portland and unincorporated Multnomah County. At more than 5,000 acres of mostly second-growth forest, it is the largest natural urban forest reserve in the United States and is considered by many to be the "crown jewel" of the region's network of natural areas. The park contains significant wildlife corridors and more than 70 miles of recreational trails, including the well-used Wildwood Trail (a segment of the 40-Mile Loop). Its massive tree canopy and substantial undergrowth support an abundance of wildlife, including the 112 bird and 62 mammal species that have been recorded there.

2006 Natural Areas Program bond description

Connecting Forest Park to Rock Creek and the Westside Trail will keep important wildlife corridors intact and provide trail connections between the region's largest urban park and Washington County. Acquiring key properties will capitalize on recent successful acquisitions of land adjacent to and beyond Forest Park, connecting the park with the larger Pacific Greenway.

1995 Natural Areas Program goals and accomplishments

  • Acquire 320 acres adjacent to and within the park to protect, maintain and expand habitat.
  • Protect and enhance water quality in Balch and Miller creeks.
  • Provide a trail corridor from the north end of the park to the proposed Burlington-Northern Rails to Trails project and to the Pacific Greenway.
  • Protect the Upper Rock Creek tributary area west of Skyline Boulevard.
  • Acquire key trailhead site(s) to ease pressure at the Thurman Avenue entrance in Northwest Portland.

To date more than 865 acres have been protected by Metro's program including "in holdings," "pinch points," and trailhead sites. More than 600 of these acres are located in proximity to the northern end of the existing park boundaries including the Friends of Forest Park's "Ancient Forest" and lands along Agency and Ennis creeks.


New focus for Metro's 2006 Natural Areas Program

  • Connect Forest Park to protected lands along Agency Creek and Ennis Creek and expanding the park's boundary to the north.
  • Connect Forest Park to lands in the Upper Rock Creek target area.

Field research and scientific data findings

  • Recent studies on the Willamette River have shown the importance of tributary creeks, including Balch, Saltzman, Doane and Miller creeks, to provide valuable sources of clean and cold water, nutrients, and "off channel" and confluences refuge and rearing areas for listed fish species.
  • Scientific data continues to show the critical importance of intact headwaters for water quality and quantity protection, wildlife habitat and maintenance of overall watershed health.

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.

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Natural Areas Program

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